Scientists have conducted the first scans of a mysterious object which blasted through our solar system at 196,000 miles per hour to discover whether it’s an alien spaceship.
Sadly, it looks like the cigar-shaped object that’s been named ‘Oumuamua was probably not a probe sent by an extraterrestrial civilisation.
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.
Unfortunately, analysis of data gathered from the first scans of ‘Oumuamua indicate there is ‘no evidence of artificial signals emanating from the object’.
However, there is still a small glimmer of hope for people who are hoping the asteroid has been made by extraterrestrials.
Breakthrough Listen has gathered so much that it will take more time to crunch through. This information has also been released to the public.
‘It is great to see data pouring in from observations of this novel and interesting source,” said Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center.
‘Our team is excited to see what additional observations and analyses will reveal.’
What is ‘Oumuamua?
Even though it doesn’t appear to be an alien ship, the asteroid’s origin is still a mystery, although some scientists been suggested it’s may have formed out of the remains of a dead planet.
‘Oumuamua is the first object to have been observed in our star system after travelling here through deep space. It’s about the size of The Gherkin in London, which stands 180 metres tall.
One of the reasons ‘Oumuamua has grabbed the world’s attention is because experts believe an alien spaceship would have a similar shape.
In a blog, Breakthrough Listen wrote: ‘Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft since this would minimize friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust.
‘While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that ‘Oumuamua could be an artefact.’
Is ‘Oumuamua an alien spaceship?
Probably not, although it is behaving a bit like one
Jason Wright, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, said the ‘tumbling’ motion of the strange object is what he’d expect to see if an alien spacecraft was drifting through space after its engines had failed.
Sadly, the astronomer doesn’t actually believe Oumuamua is alien in origin, but he set out the following thought experiment on his blog:
‘Such derelict craft would, if they are not travelling so fast that they escape the Galaxy, eventually ‘thermalize’ with the stars and end up drifting around like any other interstellar comet or asteroid,’ he wrote.
‘In fact, since they (presumably) no longer have attitude control, one would expect that they would eventually begin to tumble, and if they are very rigid that tumbling might distinguish them from ordinary interstellar asteroids… and in fact, just because their propulsion is broken doesn’t mean that their radio transmitters would be broken.’