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Oumuamua May Have Been an Alien Spaceship, Astronomers Say
09 November 2018, 09:10 | Justin Tyler
Scientists Believe Mysterious, Oddly Shaped Space Object Could Be 'Alien Probe'
Just when we thought the question was settled for good, here we are again: discussing whether the tumbling, cigar-shaped object known as 'Oumuamua that came crashing through our solar system late past year is an alien spacecraft.
The Oumuamua was spotted late past year as it drifted into the solar system and passed close enough to the sun that it could be seen on observational telescopes.
Oumuamua has already passed Earth on its way out of the solar system, so the object is too far away for scientists to continue studying it, meaning its origin, behavior, and makeup will remain a mystery.
The latest theory shedding more light on the nature of Oumuamua comes from a study carried out by two astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The scientists are not claiming with certainty that Oumamua was definitely of alien origin (they admit in their paper that scenario is "exotic"), but the shape was determined to have come from outside our solar system.
If the object is a lightsail, the paper adds it might have been floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it "like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean".
"Like most scientists, I would love there to be convincing evidence of alien life, but this isn't it", said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astrophysicist at Queens University, Belfast. The excessive acceleration could be explained by the pressure of solar radiation, or "solar sail". Loeb has published four books and more than 700 papers on topics like black holes, the future of the universe, the search for extraterrestrial life and the first stars.
Asked if he believed the hypothesis he put forward, Bialy told AFP: "I wouldn't say I "believe" it is sent by aliens, as I am a scientist and not a believer, I rely on evidence to put forward possible physical explanation for observed phenomena".
The technology, NBC news says, is still in its infancy on Earth, however.
Some are not so sure the cigar-shaped 'Oumuamua is a solar sail, however.
Loeb said he is not definitively claiming the object is alien, but said it is important to acknowledge the possibility. "But until every other possibility has been exhausted a dozen times over, even the authors probably don't believe it".
Oumuamua has now left the solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes.
"Aliens would only come into all of this if you accept their assumption (and that's what it is; it doesn't come from the data) that "Oumuamua is sail-like, and also assume nothing like that can be natural", Bailer-Jones wrote in an email".
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