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

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Golden Country: What caused the Hope Slide?

For many years, earthquakes were thought to be the cause. Were they?

New bus route from Merritt to Prince George will pick-up in Cache Creek, Clinton

Merritt Shuttle Bus Service will also run from Merritt to Langley via Spences Bridge

Fossil from Marble Canyon could become a provincial symbol

British Columbians can vote for a provincial fossil, with a local candidate in the running

Fire chiefs for the day have wonderful time

Two Ashcroft students got engine rides, a fire hall tour, and more

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move, due to log supply shortages, will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Most Read