An artist's impression of `Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered in the solar system. (ESA / Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser)
Experts have expressed skepticism about claims from two Harvard astronomers who say an interstellar object passed through our solar system by the end of 2017 and at the beginning of 2018 could have been part of a spacecraft.
- The study suggests "Oumuamua is not an" active comet "and can be a" discarded easy sail of extraterrestrial origin "
- The interstellar object was first discovered in October 2017 and was measured less than 400 meters in diameter
- Other experts have expressed skepticism about the results of the studies
Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb, two astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, proposed the cigar-shaped object – given the Hawaiian name "Oumuamua, as NASA noted" means a messenger from the very first arrival first "- could have been a discarded light sail of extraterrestrial origin, may be sent here intentionally.
In the same way as a sailboat uses the wind in its sail to push it forward, a spacecraft with a light sail uses light from a nearby star to operate it, with radiation pressure exerting a small amount of power.
"New observations and theoretical studies mean that" Oumuamua is not an active comedy, "the researchers said in a draft study.
"If the radiation pressure is the accelerating force, Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, either produced naturally, through an unknown process in [interstellar medium] or in proto-planetary discs or of an artificial origin. "
They said it seemed to use the sun's radiation as an energy source, and although it was just a natural object, it was still unique.
But Alan Jackson, a colleague at the Center for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, told CNN that the study was "clearly missing in evidence, never any extraordinary evidence" and that spectral data suggested that the object was an asteroid or comet.
"All functional spacecraft would almost certainly pull in its solar tile once in interstellar space to prevent damage," Jackson said.
"The seal is worthless once away from a star, so there would be no reason to leave it deployed.
"If used again at the inlet of the solar system, it would be untouched. Even if it was submitted, the dust suspension would be primarily on the front side that bugs on the windshield."
Astrophysician Katie Mack also expressed skepticism around the study, encouraging Twitter users to be careful when reading "huge about true" claims.
"Oumuamua originates from the solar system
At the end of October 2017, NASA said that the recently discovered interstellar visitor proved "originating from the outside of the solar system, which comes from elsewhere in our galaxy".
"This unusual object … is less than [400 metres] in diameter and moving remarkably fast, "NASA said at that time.
"Astronomers are in a hurry to point telescopes around the world and in space at this remarkable object.
"Once these data have been obtained and analyzed, astronomers can know more about the origin and possibly the composition of the object."
NASA's Center for Nearby Earth Object Researcher Davide Farnocchia, working at the Agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said it was "the most extreme course" he had seen.
"It's extremely fast and on such a path that we can safely say that this item is out of the solar system and will not be back," Farnocchia said shortly after the discovery.