"Oumuamua", the first interstellar object observed in the solar system, could be a probe sent by intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, according to a paper published by Astronomical Department Chairman Abraham "Avi" Loeb and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctor at Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
"Oumuamua – as Loeb said means" a great-distance visitor "on Hawaiian – was first discovered in October 2017 by a telescope in Hawaii. Since then, it has been moved out of satellites and rockets, making it very difficult to study its composition and leave its galactic origin a mystery.
The interstellar object is an anomaly for several reasons, said Loeb. After analyzing sunlight reflected from his surface, he and Bialy found that the object is at least five to ten times longer than it is wide and potentially cigar or pancake format, much more elongated than the typical asteroid.
However, "Oumuamuas defining characteristics – and the main reason scientists believe it could be a probe from an alien civilization – is" extra push "in its path, which drives it forward more than the sun's heavy-duty single customer, said Loeb. is that "Oumuamua is a comet because they also have an extra pressure caused by the ice vaporizing on the surface and creating a rocket-like appearance. But Loeb said that the comet hypothesis does not match the observations of "Oumuamua".
"In that case we should have seen a cloud of dust or gas around it, because when you look at comets, you'll see a comet," he said. "But there is no evidence for such a thing."
Loeb, instead, taught that "Oumuamuas unusual path was caused by" radiation pressure "from the sun that propelled it as a sail. In this case, the object must be less than one millimeter in thickness.
"Light sail – a sail driven by light – is now being considered in space exploration," he said.
Loeb currently stands for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, which aims to create this exact type of astronomical research technology. He and others are designing a lightweight sail powered by a powerful laser that will be able to search for life in the Alpha Centauri star system. He suggested that "Oumuamua can be a similar effort from other civilizations.
"I admit, my imagination is limited to what I know, but it's true to all," said Loeb. "I was inspired by my commitment to the project."
Loeb said he was astonished at the overwhelming interest – from prominent astronomers and the public – in his magazine. He said that the paper was approved for publication only a few days after it had been submitted, an unusually fast turn in the scientific community.
"I think the public is very interested in this subject, and researchers are very shy away from this," said Loeb. "To me, it is personally a legitimate thing for us to consider that a quarter of all stars have habitable planets like the earth that can have floating water on its surface and the chemistry of life we know."
In spite of Oumuamuas puzzling qualities, Loeb was hesitant to definitely classify it as an object of the stranger's origin.
"I prefer not to assign probabilities to the type" Oumuamua ", he wrote in an email." We just need to be practical and collect more data about it or other members of its population. Interpretation of existing and future data is my plan for the future. "
-Staffwriter Amy L. Jia can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ AmyLJia.
-Staffwriter Sanjana L. Narayanan can be reached at [email protected]