Researchers think aliens could be spying on us through a mysterious cigar-shaped object which was spotted sailing through our solar system.
The long strange mass was first discovered by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii last year, when it was given the nickname ‘Oumuamua, which means ‘a messenger from afar arriving first’ in Hawaiian.
And so the mystic story begins.
Scientists have struggled to identify exactly what ‘Oumuamua is since it was spotted, with researchers first calling it a comet and then an asteroid before finally deciding the object belonged to a new class of ‘interstellar objects’ all by itself, CNN report.
Now, researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have suggested the dark-red mass might actually be of ‘artificial origin’. Cue The X-Files theme tune.
Abraham Loeb, professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral scholar, wrote a paper exploring the various theories on how the cigar-shaped object might have come to be in our solar system.
Okay, they do admit that the idea it was intentionally sent by aliens to spy on earth might be a little far-fetched, but if two highly qualified researchers can believe it’s possible, then we can too.
The paper reads:
Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that ‘Oumuamua is a light sail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment.
Light sails with similar dimensions have been designed and constructed by our own civilisation, including the IKAROS project and the Starshot Initiative.
Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that ‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation.
View this post on Instagram
Recently, astronomers scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the solar system from interstellar space. Named Oumuamua, it is the first confirmed object from another star. Now, new data reveal the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. Its aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date. While its elongated shape is quite surprising, and unlike asteroids seen in our solar system, it may provide new clues into how other solar systems formed. // #asteroid #oumuamua #space #cosmos #universe #astro #astronomer #astronaut #shuttle #nasa #hawai #hawaii #espace #fly #flight #telescope #observe #explore #travel #science #scientist #soyuz #rocket #saturn #planet #earth #solar
According to NASA, the space cigar, as I have dubbed it, is up to a quarter of a mile long and highly-elongated, potentially 10 times as long as it is wide. An artist at European Southern Observatory constructed the above image to show what it looks like.
It is the first object ever seen in our solar system known to have originated elsewhere.
If the object was sent by aliens to gather information about what exactly it is us humans do with ourselves, hopefully we don’t have to worry too much as Loeb and Bialy suggested ‘Oumuamua may no longer be operational, indicated by its high speed and unusual trajectory.
This would account for the various anomalies of ‘Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its light-curve, its low thermal emission, suggesting high reflectivity, and its deviation from a Keplerian orbit without any sign of a cometary tail or spin-up torques.
I suppose that could be good news as the information might not make it back to the aliens, or else bad news if the information was already beamed to their far away planet.
Though to be honest the aliens would probably have just seen us all binging Netflix and scrolling social media. We won’t be much of a threat to them.
Upon discovering ‘Oumuamua, NASA Planetary Defence Officer Lindley Johnson said:
We are fortunate that our sky survey telescope was looking in the right place at the right time to capture this historic moment.
This serendipitous discovery is bonus science enabled by NASA’s efforts to find, track and characterise near-Earth objects that could potentially pose a threat to our planet.
The space cigar is certainly intriguing!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.