Harvard astronomers believe that Oumuamua could be an alien space probe. (European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser)

Cigar-shaped interstellar object could be alien probe: Harvard

Astronomers say ‘Oumuamua’ is unlikely to be an asteroid or comet

A cigar-shaped object seen floating through space could be an alien probe, Harvard researchers suggest.

In a study published last week by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, researchers say the object, dubbed “Oumuamua,” is the first object of “interstellar origin” observed in our solar system.

“Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilization,” researchers said.

NASA believes Oumuamua, which was discovered last fall by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope, is about 400 metres long, and made up “of rock and possibly metals, has no water or ice, and that its surface was reddened due to the effects of irradiation from cosmic rays over hundreds of millions of years.”

It is forecast to travel beyond Saturn’s orbit, as it shoots through space at a speed of 38.3 kilometers per second.

The Harvard study’s authors acknowledged that an alien space probe is a “more exotic scenario,” and said Oumuamua could be either naturally occurring or accidental space debris, albeit still from a mystery source.

However, its mass-to-area ratio makes it unlikely that it’s merely an oddly shaped asteroid or comet.

Either way, researcher said it was too late to photograph Oumuamua with existing telescopes or to chase it with chemical rockets.

Instead, researchers, and the rest of us, will have to wait for a new Oumuamua to appear before we can discover what it really is.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Coast company brings virtual whale watching experience to youth with disabilities

About 40 Easter Seals BC/Yukon children, youth and adults with disabilities were… Continue reading

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

Meet Chewy, Ladysmith’s Turf Kitty

Independent feline has carved out his own special territory in town’s sports field

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Oyster River department battles Black Creek house fire

UPDATED: House experiences extensive damage, no one inside at the time

Vancouver Island RCMP warn of ongoing frauds

Here are some of the more common scams to be aware of

North Island College ready for a virtual fall semester

“It’s a really good time to be a student.”

Turf replacement installed at Oak Bay High

New Astroturf will be ready for school, sports still cancelled

Poetry contest started for Vancouver Island poets

“We’re such a unique group,” says founder on why she wanted to start the collective

Most Read