‘Oumuamua, an interstellar object spotted for the first time zooming past our solar system in 2017, is perhaps the most talked about the alien object in recent years.
‘Oumuamua’, which means ‘Scout’ in Hawaiian was discovered in 2017 by Robert Weryk at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy using the PanStarrs telescope (also in Hawaii).
Ever since its discovery, the strange space rock first thought to be a comet, then later reclassified as an asteroid has given us a lot to talk about.
Currently, astronomers are discussing the object’s dimensions, its speed, its mass, its origin, and its destination. The more they search, the stranger it gets.
And yeah, everything about it seems to be. But maybe that’s just because it is the first interstellar object we’ve ever come across.
Nonetheless, some astronomers have theorized that ‘Oumuamua may be a sort of alien space probe powered by solar sails.
Harvard researchers Avi Loeb and Shmuel Bialy noted in a pre-print of their article that, even though it was an ‘exotic scenario,’ but “Oumuamua may be a fully operational alien probe sent intentionally to Earth by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization.”
But it isn’t the first time astronomers made such speculations.
Back in 2017, SETI–Search for extraterrestrial intelligence–decided that given ‘Oumuamua’s peculiar characteristics, it was worth studying for radio signals.
They searched but found nothing coming from the object.
But now, Harvard astronomers think there’s a chance the object may be an alien probe and its mostly because of the fact that as the object is moving away from the sun, it started accelerating, and astronomers earlier predicted that it would slow down. In addition to that, the object’s trajectory changed.
However, Robert Weryk, the man who discovered the strange interstellar object in 2017 at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, recently spoke to CBC’s Afternoon Drive, saying how the theory brought forth by Harvard scientists is ‘a bit of wild speculation’.
“I think it’s a remnant from another solar system. It’s just something that happened to run into us, and we were very lucky to have been operating the telescope that night and looking in that direction,” Weryk explained.
Yeah, it turns out that ‘Oumuamua accelerated faster away from the Sun than expected, but is that evidence enough to suggest it is an alien probe? It could be a small piece of ‘what if’, but the majority of astronomers agree that it is just not enough.
“Currently, there is an unexplained phenomena, namely, the excess acceleration of ‘Oumuamua, which we show may be explained by the force of radiation pressure from the sun,’ co-author and Harvard astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy, one of the proponents of the ‘maybe it was aliens theory” explained.
“However this requires the body to have a very large surface and be very thin, which is not encountered in nature,” added Bialy.
But even though both Harvard scientists carefully included the alien possibility in their recent paper, their work went viral, mostly because, well it’s aliens, and two Harvard scientists say it could be.
“Honestly, that’s a bit of wild speculation,” Weryk answered when asked about the paper by Harvard scientists Abraham Leob and Shmuel Bialy.
“(The Harvard researchers) decided to focus on another aspect of that, that it’s an alien spacecraft and that it has a solar sail type material that’s causing the non-gravitational trajectory. But we actually believe that’s not true based on the data we obtained,” said Weryk.