Harvard: Asteroid could be alien spacecraft
Scientists suggest ‘Oumuamua could have been a space probe sent by an advanced civilisation
An odd interstellar object which flew through our Solar System - before speeding up and departing - may well have been an alien spacecraft. At least that's according to new research by Harvard scientists which says we cannot rule out that an advanced alien civilisation sent it as a probe.
Ever since 'Oumuamua flew past Earth in October 2017, scientists have pondered what it could have been. They were intrigued by its strange, quickly spinning behaviour and its noted acceleration, with researchers Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb now suggesting it could have been a ‘light sail’ using the Sun for energy.
It's certainly a more outlandish classification given it was originally regarded as a comet or an asteroid. But Bialy and Loeb say the lack of a tail or coma is likely to rule that out. By contrast, if it was a light sail “floating in interstellar space as debris from an advanced technology equipment”, they reckon it could survive for as many as 16,000 light years.
Should it ever be proven true it would quite obviously be a major breakthrough and a huge world event. Of course it would also lead to many follow-up questions, notably why was it here and was it sent our way on purpose?
An artist's impression of the cigar-shaped asteroid ‘Oumuamua