Newly Found Weird Interstellar Object Has Researchers Baffled

Artist’s concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. The aspect ratio of up to 10:1 is unlike that of any object seen in our own solar system. (European Souther

The cigar-shaped asteroid, named 'Oumuamua by its discoverers, sailed past Earth last month and is the first interstellar object seen in the solar system.

They are listening for electromagnetic signals, no stronger than those emitted by a mobile phone, that can not be produced by natural celestial bodies.

The first of four planned observation blocks was conducted on December 13 from 3:45 pm to 9:45 pm EST.

Defending his work, Siemion says SETI is a key tool in attempting to answer the question of whether or not we're alone in the universe, and that it's a reasonable scientific endeavor to determine the number density and distribution of technologically capable life on both galactic and possibly cosmological scales.

'We spend most of our time surveying pedestrian objects, but occasionally something special will capture our attention.

'With the technology we now have, it's a straightforward thing for us to look, but that's all we can do'.

Typically, scientists at Breakthrough Listen hunt for aliens by scanning distant stars, but when 'Oumuamua (pronounced "oh-moo-ah-moo-ah" and meaning "a messenger from afar arriving first") paid us an unexpected visit, it was an opportunity they couldn't pass up. A subset of the S-band data is now available for public inspection in the Breakthrough Listen archive, and additional data will be added as it becomes available. The $100 million mission now has an unusual object in its sights.

Hawking and his colleagues at Breakthrough Listen, a 10-year project created in 2015 with $100 million in funding from internet investor and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner with a focus on searching for evidence of intelligent alien civilizations beyond Earth, are intrigued by this possibility. We invite those who are interested to study the tutorial material provided by the Breakthrough Listen science team at the University of California, Berkeley, SETI Research Center and to assist with the analysis not only of this intriguing object, but of the entire Breakthrough Listen dataset.

Another oddity is that Oumuamua is flying very "cleanly", without emitting the usual cloud of space dust that astronomers observe around asteroids.

While the search isn't over yet, it is possible that this may turn out to be nothing more than a space rock.

"If this object is natural in origin, there should be many more like it in the solar system and even if majority are natural, perhaps one of them will be found to be of artificial origin, some space device or junk from an alien civilisation".

Penn State astronomer Jason Wright agrees, but he didn't think 'Oumuamua was the greatest candidate to begin with.

But others have suggested that the comet did come from Earth, but interacted with Jupiter or another planet, which changed its orbit.

The fact that it doesn't seem to have engines or show signs of propulsion may wreck the interplanetary-spacecraft theory.

Meanwhile, Avi Loeb, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and a member of the Breakthrough Listen initiative, explained the importance of their team's efforts.

"My recommendation, as in any dialogue, is that we first listen and do our best to understand what we are hearing", Loeb told the Daily Mail.

'Once we figure this out, we can decide how to respond. Overall, I am an optimist.



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