Unidentified space object not alien ship, say scientists after first scans

Oumuamua

Unidentified space object not alien ship, say scientists after first scans

Researchers from Breakthrough Listen, an alien-hunting organisation led by Professor Stephen Hawking, used a large telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia, to detect whether the asteroid is emitting radio waves.

Initial scans of a cigar-shaped interstellar "comet" have yet to confirm it is of extra terrestrial origin. "There is still a lot we don't know about the solar system, and finding objects like this could help improve our understanding of how the Earth and our solar system first came to be". A subset of the S-band data is now available for public inspection in the Breakthrough Listen archive [3], and additional data will be added as it becomes available.

On Wednesday, the global astronomical program, Breakthrough Listen, aimed a huge telescope from West Virginia to gather more data and detect any "signal the strength of a mobile phone coming out of this object". The scientists will use scanners to listen for particular electromagnetic signals which are not produced in nature.

Dr Jason Wright from Penn State University suggests that a broken alien spacecraft move in exactly the same way as the interstellar comet.

They said while monitoring and analysis continued, the first signs were that there was "no evidence of artificial signals emanating from the object".

Commenting on the results, Andrew Siemion, director of Berkeley SETI Research Center, told the Mail Online: "To find technologically advanced life elsewhere could suggest that intelligence is a defining characteristic of the universe".

Even if 'Oumuamua doesn't turn out to be an alien spacecraft, observing it will be a boon to our space exploration capabilities. Whether it's artificial, that's a very remote possibility. "So now we have a piece of another planetary system flying by Earth, flying through our solar system, that we briefly have a chance to study".

Whether the object is an alien craft remains to be seen, but scientists have seemingly offered a glimpse into their excitement and optimism with its name - 'Oumuamua is a Hawaiian term meaning roughly 'a messenger reaching out in advance'. It also has a dark-red sheen - a color it earned from billions of years of cosmic rays corroding organic molecules on its surface - and, while it zips through the solar system at more than 16 miles per second, is tumbling wildly, rather than rotating smoothly. However, given the object's speed, the paper says, "it seems unlikely that 1I/2017 U1 originated from a possible Oort cloud around this star, but it simply trespassed on its way through". It swooped in from such an extreme angle that it couldn't possibly have been native to our neck of the woods, and the only explanation they could come up with is that the long, cigar-shaped intruder was actually just a really weird-looking asteroid.

'Once we figure this out, we can decide how to respond.

"Overall, I am an optimist".

If 'Oumuamua is part of an enormous interstellar asteroid field, it could have been ejected from its solar system hundreds of millions or perhaps even billions of years ago.

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