The first interstellar object we’ve ever spotted zooming past our solar system has given us a lot to talk about.
Dubbed as ‘Oumuamua, the massive cigar-shaped object believed to be composed of metal and rock, and having a length of around 400 meters is creating confusion among experts as it flies through our solar system.
Everything about the object is weird: it is traveling extremely fast, it is accelerating, it’s shape is not what you’d expect to see, and as its moving away from the sun, it has changed its trajectory. Also, we have absolutely no idea where exactly ‘Oumuamua-which means Messenger in Hawaiian–came from.
And as you’d expect, someone had to say it: what if it E.T.?
In a preprint paper published in November of 2018, Harvard Institute for Theory and Computation researchers Shmuel Bialy, Ph.D., and Professor Abraham Loeb, Ph.D., brought forward a controversial theory: That ‘Oumuamua may, in fact, be a spacecraft sent by aliens to study our solar system.
In the study, Bialy and Loeb explain the speed anomaly seen in ‘Oumuamua, which scientists have previously said could not be accounted for gravity alone.
The video below (by NASA) perfectly illustrates the objects strange and unexpected acceleration.
Bialy and Loeb argue that the recent speed picked up by ‘Oumuamua could be explained by solar radiations pressure, that photons from the sun provided ‘Oumuamua with a ‘push’.
However, they include a controversial idea which has caused a number of scientists to speak out:
Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that ‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.
This animation shows the path of the interstellar object `Oumuamua through the Solar System. Recent measurements of `Oumuamuas flight path show that it is not moving as the laws of celestial mechanics predict — its course is slightly off.
As NASA scientists explain, Oumuamua’s speed and trajectory indicate it most likely originated somewhere in a distant alien solar system, making it our first known interstellar visitor.