Do you remember Oumuamua, that elongated shaped asteroid that passed through the Solar System in October of last year? Since then, astronomers try to find natural explanations for their strange physical characteristics. Two Harvard researchers have postulated an even more exotic theory.
Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have just published an interesting report on the acceleration of Oumuamua as it passed through the Solar System. His conclusion is that it must be due to some type of propulsion and point, not without a certain self-confidence, that this type of movement fits with that of an artificial vehicle driven by light.
The movement to which they refer is a rare maneuver that the asteroid made to move away from the Sun. After crossing the Solar System and passing close to our star, Oumuamua changed slightly trajectory and accelerated its march in a certainly unexpected way. The combined data from Hubble and several terrestrial telescopes from ESA and NASA confirmed that the asteroid left our system at a much faster rate than expected.
That is precisely what Bialy and Loeb study. Both astrophysicists have studied the acceleration of Oumuamua in its output trajectory and theorize that it may be due to a pressure exerted by solar radiation. In other words, the asteroid accelerated due to the push of the Sun's photons on its surface.
The researchers play with the idea that the Oumuamua propulsion system is similar to the Lightsail probes we investigate on Earth. From there to drop that Oumuamua can be a luminous propulsion probe sent by a distant civilization there is very little, a couple of paragraphs, to be exact.
Of course, pressure propulsion of solar radiation does not imply that Oumuamua is a camouflaged probe. In June of this same year, a study published in Nature explains that the surface of the asteroid can generate that slight impulse caused by the gasification of the ice that forms Oumuamua. the evaporation of the ice on its surface releases enough gas to register a slight impulse in the opposite direction to the Sun (since it is provoked precisely in the exposed part).
The interstellar asteroid Oumuamua has its own natural propulsion system
Its passage through the Solar System was very brief, but its elongated shape like that of a cigar and its …
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Simple natural phenomenon or exotic propulsion manufactured by an extraterrestrial civilization? Astrophysicists play with that idea to attract the public's fascination with aliens. This post and many others that have been published today are good proof that they have achieved it. If you are one of those who enjoy these topics, I recommend reading the wonderful novel Cita con Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. [Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics vía Ars Technica]