Scientists say mystery space object could be alien spacecraft

Gwen Vasquez
November 9, 2018

Panspermia is a hypothesis which suggests life on Earth came from microorganisms present in outer space which were unintentionally carried to our solar system and Earth by objects like dust, meteorites, and asteroids, according to the explanation on NASA's website.

In their new paper, Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggest Oumuamua could have been "a lightsail of artificial origin".

Oumuamua was spotted by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii, hence its name, which means "messenger" in Hawaiian.

Oumuamua is traveling away from the Sun at a rate of approximately 70,000 miles per hour, towards the outer part of the solar system.

Oumuamua has left our solar system and is no longer capable of being seen - but as Loeb points out, the existence of Oumuamua suggests there are others like it yet to be found.

"It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back", Mr Farnocchia said shortly after its discovery.

"If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, either produced naturally, through a yet unknown process... or of an artificial origin", the authors wrote.

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Their paper was accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and will appear on November 12.

If nothing else, Loeb hopes this story serves as a vehicle to make the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Institute (SETI) more mainstream through evidence-based science.

Another alternative? It was an actual alien spacecraft sent to observe Earth.

Jackson said the spectral data from 'Oumuamua looks like an asteroid or a comet, while that of a solar sail would look very different. Even the spinning motion of a damaged solar sail would be far more strongly influenced by the radiation forces than seen, he explained.

Loeb said he is not definitively claiming the object is alien, but said it is important to acknowledge the possibility. "You have to understand that for scientists, the craziest idea is always publishable, as long as there is a tiny chance that it is not wrong", she wrote on Twitter.

'But until every other possibility has been exhausted dozen times over, even the authors probably don't believe it'. It's also possible Oumuamua was just created to wander through space, collecting information, and our solar system just happened to be in its way - its operators weren't necessarily looking to pry into the lives of humans. "In fact, they only mention the word 'alien" once, when they mention in passing that 'Oumuamua might have been targeted to intercept the solar system.

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