Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

The scientists suspected that "Omwamwi" - alien ship

The scientists suspected that

The object, nicknamed 'Oumuamua, meaning "a messenger that reaches out from the distant past" in Hawaiian, was discovered in October 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

The authors argue that if Oumuamua were just a random interstellar rock, we should have seen more objects like it.

The paper's authors, which include Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's astronomy department, suggest the object could be a "lightsail" used to propel spacecraft with solar energy. The scientists behind this paper are postdoctoral researcher Shmuel Bialy and professor Abraham Loeb, director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Light sail technology has already been developed by scientists here on Earth, such as Japan's IKAROS project and the Starshot Initiative, the authors write. Given its high speed and unique trajectory, scientists suspect that the object came clearly from outside our Solar system.

What we do know is the Oumuamua is the first object ever seen in our solar system that is known to have originated elsewhere.

Comets, in particular, are known to speed up due to "outgassing", a process in which the sun heats the surface of the icy comet, releasing melted gas. But Oumuamua wasn't "coma", of the atmosphere and dust that surround the comet, when they melt.

Bailer-Jones, who earlier this year led a group of scientists who identified four dwarf stars as likely origin points for Oumuamua, raised questions in particular about the object's tumbling motion.

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"This serendipitous discovery is bonus science enabled by NASA's efforts to find, track and characterize near-Earth objects that could potentially pose a threat to our planet".

So far, there is no obvious origin for 'Oumuamua.

Instead, it had dived between Mercury and the sun and was zooming past Earth on its way out of our solar system, a path that meant Oumuamua was an interstellar traveler from beyond the solar system. SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, tried to detect signals from the object, but found nothing.

"The likelihood of Galactic panspermia is strongly dependent upon the survival lifetime of the putative organisms as well as the velocity of the transporter", Manasvi Lingam and Loeb from this current study said in another paper published previously in the Astrophysical Journal.

Claiming the vessel may be made by aliens, Dr Bialy told The Times: 'Even if there's a small chance it's so interesting that we can't ignore it'.

In December 2017 it was announced the astronomers were going to scan Oumuamua for signs of alien life.

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