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

VIDEO: Chocolate smeared faces spoke to success of Fort Langley egg hunts

The historic site repeated its popular kids Easter celebration, complete with three candy scrambles

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

LETTER: Faster and easier for Willoughby residents to shop in Pitt Meadows

Writer frustrated with traffic nightmares that have and continue to plague her growing neighbourhood

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Bobcats, bears, and otters, oh my!

Critter Care Wildlife Society’s 20th anniversary gala set for next Saturday in Langley

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read