A mysterious asteroid called Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever to be seen in the Solar System, could be a giant alien awning looking for signs of life, a new study found.

Astronomers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) analyzed the strange cigar shape of the object and an unexpected acceleration and trajectory shift as it traversed the inner solar system last year.

They came to the conclusion that the strange asteroid "possibly a light sail of artificial origin"

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Astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics came to the conclusion that the weird asteroid could be "a light sail of artificial origin."


Similar to the wind that pushes a sailboat through water, awnings rely on sunlight to bring vehicles through space.

The sail constantly detects streaming sun particles, so-called photons, with huge sails of light material.

Over time, building these particles provides enough thrust for a spacecraft to travel in space.

The recent online study "Can Solar Radiation Pressure Explain Oumuamua's Special Acceleration?" Led by Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow at the CfA Institute of Theory and Computation (ITC), and Professor Abraham Loeb, ITC Director, Frank B. Baird Jr., a professor of science at Harvard University, and chairman of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee.

The researchers say the strange acceleration could be the result of solar radiation pushing a huge solar sail.

They found that only a fraction of a millimeter thick sail (0.3-0.9 mm) was sufficient, so that a sheet of solid material could survive the journey through the entire galaxy.

Sails of similar dimensions have been designed and constructed by humans, including the Japan-designed IKAROS project and the Starshot initiative in which he is involved.

"Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that" Oumuamua is a light sail floating in interstellar space as the rubble of advanced technological equipment, "they wrote.

The JPL team has yet to figure out how to power the boat - and many of their ideas are based on technologies that are not there yet, such as this laser sail developed by the breakthrough project and the same trip to Alpha Centairi wants to hope.

The JPL team has yet to figure out how to power the boat – and many of their ideas are based on technologies that are not there yet, such as this laser sail developed by the breakthrough project and the same trip to Alpha Centairi wants to hope.

"Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that" Oumuamua is a fully functional probe intentionally sent by an alien civilization near Earth, "they added.

Another option that explains the lack of communication, the lack of any kind of signal, may mean that the huge object is indeed a "strange shipwreck".

Professor Loeb previously wrote in Scientific American: Oumuamua may be the first known case of an artificial relic that has floated out of interstellar space into our solar system.

"This opportunity provides a possible basis for a new frontier in space archeology, namely the study of relics from past civilizations in space". "

The search for evidence of a space debris of artificial origin would be an affirmative answer to the age-old question, "Are we alone?" This would have a dramatic impact on our culture and would give a new cosmic perspective to the importance of human activities. "

This image shows Oumuamua racing to the edge of our solar system. Because the complex rotation of the object makes it difficult to determine the exact shape, there are many models of what the object might look like.

This picture shows' Oumuamua racing to the brink of our solar system. Because the complex rotation of the object makes it difficult to determine the exact shape, there are many models of what the object might look like.

Loeb told Universe, "Oumuamua could be an active piece of alien technology to explore our solar system, just as we hope to explore Alpha Centauri with Starshot and similar technologies."

"The alternative is to imagine that Oumuamua was on a reconnaissance mission, and the reason I think about the possibility of enlightenment is that the assumption that Oumua was following a random orbit is the creation of ~ 10 ^ {15} This abundance is up to a hundred million times higher than expected by the solar system, based on a calculation we performed in 2009. A surprisingly high abundance, unless Oumuamua is a purposeful exploration of one Reconnaissance mission and not a member of a random population of objects. & # 39;

The cigar-shaped object named "Oumuamua" was discovered by the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii on October 19th of last year.

A reconstruction of NASA's "outgassing" of Oumuamua. The cigar-shaped object was first discovered on 19 October last year by the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii. Now, a new study claims that it could be an awning from an alien civilization.

Its appearance and behavior astonished the scientists and led to speculation that it could even be an alien artifact – and now they have found that it has received a strange speed boost on the run, which has helped identify it as a comet.

Telescopes discovered the mysterious red-colored object last October as it shot through the inner solar system.

Since then, astronomers have tilted between comets and asteroids for our first confirmed interstellar guest.

"Our high-precision measurements of Oumuamua's position have shown that something other than the gravitational forces of the sun and the planets has affected their movement," said Marco Micheli of the European Space Agency (ESA), Frascati, Italy Principal author of a paper describing the results of the team.


A cigar-shaped asteroid called "Oumuamua" sailed past the earth in October at a speed of 156,200 km / h.

It was first discovered by a telescope in Hawaii on October 19 and observed 34 times the following week.

Named after the Hawaiian name for "boy scout" or "messenger," it passed Earth about eighty-five times the distance to the moon.

It was the first interstellar object in the solar system and stunned astronomers.

At first it was thought that the object could be a comet.

However, it does not show any of the classic behaviors expected of comets, such as a dusty water ice particulate tail.

The asteroid is up to 400 meters long and strongly elongated – maybe ten times as long as it is wide.

This aspect ratio is larger than that of an asteroid or asteroid observed so far in our solar system.

But the slightly red color of the asteroid – especially light pink – and the different brightness are remarkably similar to the objects in our solar system.

As big as the Gherkin skyscraper in London, some astronomers were convinced that aliens were being pulled past the earth because of the great distance it traveled through without destruction and the proximity of its journey.

ETI alien hunters – the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at Berkeley University, California, said the rock may be an "alien artifact."

However, scientists from Queen's University Belfast took a close look at the object and said it was an asteroid or planetsimal, as originally thought.

The researchers believe that the cigar-shaped asteroid had a "violent past" after looking at the light bouncing off its surface.

They are not sure when the violent collision took place, but they believe that the fall of the lonely asteroid will last at least a billion years.

The speed boost was similar to the behavior of a comet, said co-author Davide Farnocchia of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

"This extra subtle force on Oumuamua is probably caused by the jets of gaseous material ejected from its surface," said Farnocchia.

"This type of outgassing affects the movement of many comets in our solar system."

Comets usually emit large amounts of dust and gas when heated by the sun.

Karen Meech, astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and co-author of the study, suggested that small dust grains found on the surface of most comets were worn away during the long journey through interstellar space during Oumuamua's long journey.

"The more we study Oumuamua, the more exciting it gets," Meech said.

"I am amazed at how much we have learned from a short, intense observation campaign. I can not wait to wait for the next interstellar object! "

Oumuamua, less than half a mile long, is now farther from our Sun than Jupiter, moving away from the Sun at a speed of about 800 km / h while heading for the outer reaches of the Solar System.

In just four years, it will pass Neptune's orbit on its way back to interstellar space.

Since Oumuamua is the first interstellar object ever seen in our solar system, the researchers warn that it is difficult to draw general conclusions about this newly discovered class of celestial bodies.

However, observations point to the possibility that other star systems regularly eject small comet-like objects, and more of them should drift between the stars.

Future land and space surveys could identify more of these interstellar rovers and represent a larger sample of scientists.


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