A mysterious cigar-shaped object 'Oumuamua’, that astronomers had spotted in the solar system last year might have been an ancient alien relic, researchers have suggested. Two Harvard astronomers have suggested that it could be an artefact from an alien civilisation sent to explore the Earth’s neighbourhood.
The researchers said the non-gravitational acceleration displayed by the object called ‘Oumuamua’ could be explained through the effect of solar radiation pressure on a light-sail, a sail pushed forward as it reflects light from the sun. “Oumuamua” means “scout” in Hawaiian.
Abraham Loeb, professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral scholar, at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have now brought a new angle in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“Our paper suggests that the first evidence for extraterrestrial technology may have just passed by the Earth last year,” Loeb, who is also director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at Harvard, told The Telegraph via email.
The Harvard astronomers’ paper shows that a light-sail with a thickness of just 0.3mm to 0.9mm could survive a long journey through interstellar space, unharmed by the likely collisions with atoms or dust particles.
“One possibility is that Oumuamua is a light-sail floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment,” they wrote in their paper, citing how earlier studies had proposed light-sails for interstellar travel.
“Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation,” they said as quoted by The Telegraph.
A group of Hawaiian astronomers had first spotted the object on October 19 last year and with its unusual features — a dark-red hue and a highly elongated shape, about 800m long — and a trajectory that indicated an origin outside the solar system. While, groups of astronomers in Europe and America who watched the fast-fading object debated whether it was an asteroid or a comet.