This is a painting by scientists William K. Hartmann based on the theory that Oumuamua may have had a flat pancake disk shape. Credit: William Hartmann

New Theory Challenges Oumuamua’s Artificial Origin In Unconvincing Way

Another new theory about the origin of Oumuamua, believed by many to be the first sign of alien life.

Astrophysicists from Arizona State University have presented a new study on the mysterious origin of the first-ever interstellar object – Oumuamua. What some astronomers think was an alien spacecraft has now been identified as a fragment of a Pluto-like planet.


Until now, scientists around the world have argued about the origin of Oumuamua and what exactly it was. Unfortunately, planetary scientists found it too late which prevented them from carrying out any serious observations.

Many scientists have named it an alien spacecraft or debris. For example, renowned astronomer Avi Loeb, a professor at Harvard University, recently published the book “Aliens: The First Signs of Intelligent Life Beyond the Earth.”

In it, Oumuamua is presented precisely as an alien technology and to be honest, his explanation of his theories was definitely convincing although he did not provide sufficient evidence (it simply does not exist).

In a new study, astrophysicists Stephen Desch and Alan Jackson provide a fundamentally different explanation for the nature of the mysterious object. They analyzed the data obtained during observations and identified several new characteristics.

Did scientists solve the mysterious origin of Oumuamua?

Scientists drew attention to the speed of this body – the object entered the solar system more slowly than models predict. This indicates that it has traveled in interstellar space for no more than a billion years. Moreover, its shape was much flatter than that of any other known object in the solar system.

In addition, Oumuamua was strongly influenced by the Sun. The object began to accelerate, and this “repulsion” was more powerful than could be explained. At the same time, the object did not have a “tail” typical for comets.

Here is an illustration of the newly-suggested origin and history of Oumuamua. Credit: S. Selkirk/ASU
Here is an illustration of the newly-suggested origin and history of Oumuamua. Credit: S. Selkirk/ASU

With all this in mind, Desch and Jackson hypothesized that the mysterious object might be composed of dissimilar ice. They calculated how quickly such ices should sublimate (go from solid to gas) during Oumuamua’s passage past the Sun. The repulsive force, mass and shape of the object, and the reflectivity of ice (albedo) were also calculated.

Then the data obtained by astrophysicists were compared with the characteristics of various ices and came to the conclusion that only one form of ice – solid nitrogen – corresponds to the given model. Such material is familiar to scientists since it was observed on the surface of Pluto. Therefore, the authors of the work believe that Oumuamua may be made of exactly the same material.

The researchers also calculated the speed at which chunks of solid nitrogen ice could break away from the surface of Pluto and similar bodies during the formation stage of our solar system. This led them to conclude that Oumuamua may have been part of a planet similar to Pluto but located in a different star system.

By the way, the authors of the work believe that this object originally had a different shape, resembling a cookie, but then became thinner when the outer layers of ice burned out.

Our Take

In all honesty, this new study once again doesn’t give proper evidence for us to consider the mystery solved. The scientists undoubtedly present a new possible explanation but that’s pretty much the end of it. The unfortunate truth is that we will likely never find the real origin of Oumuamua or get a better idea of exactly how it looked like. Observations were simply several months late.

If you are interested in the more unconventional theories, we highly recommend Avi Loeb’s new book. It does not matter if you believe in aliens or not, nor does it matter if you believe that Oumuamua’s origin is natural or artificial. In such cases, we should consider all possibilities. True, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that it was aliens but unless scientists come up with a really convincing explanation… why not aliens?


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Sources:

The Guardian. (2021, March 18). Space oddity Oumuamua probably shard Of Pluto-like world, scientists say.
Jackson, A., & Desch, S. (2021, March 16). 1I/’Oumuamua as an N2 ice fragment of An exo‐Pluto SURFACE: I. size and Compositional Constraints.
Letzter, R. (2021, March 19). Interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua came from an ‘ALIEN pluto,’ new study suggests.
Ryan, J. (2021, March 18). Unexplained interstellar VISITOR Oumuamua could be lost piece of an exoplanet.
Science X. (2021, March 17). Scientists determine the origin of extra-solar object ‘Oumuamua.
Woodward, A. (2021, March 16). The mysterious INTERSTELLAR object ‘oumuamua was a chunk of planet from another solar system, a new study says.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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