Har­vard: As­teroid could be alien space­craft

Sci­en­tists sug­gest ‘Ou­mua­mua could have been a space probe sent by an ad­vanced civil­i­sa­tion

All About Space - - Launch Pad -

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

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