Is This Interstellar Asteroid an Alien Spacecraft?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 - 10:52AM
Astronomy
Space
Alien Life
Tuesday, 12 December 2017 - 10:52AM
Is This Interstellar Asteroid an Alien Spacecraft?
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If 2001: A Space Odyssey has taught us one thing, it's to stay away from long, monolith-shaped space objects—a lesson Dr. David Bowman learned the hard way.

Still, the appearance of a cigar-shaped asteroid in our solar system, the first of its kind from another galaxy, has excited a lot of questions: what gave this intergalactic traveler its unique shape? Where did it come from? What is it made of?
 
The scientists at Breakthrough Listen have a different question: is it an alien spacecraft?
 
The shape of the object has aroused all kinds of curiosity: asteroids are usually round and potato-shaped, but the object, which has been dubbed U1 or Oumuamua, which means "messenger" or "scout," is about 400 meters long and about 40 meters wide—a ratio of about 10 to 1.

Yuri Milner, the co-founder of the SETI project Breakthrough Listen, thinks that the name Oumuamua may turn out to be more than just symbolic:
 
Opening quote
"Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimise friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust. While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that Oumuamua could be an artifact."
Closing quote


Milner's Breakthrough Listen will investigate Oumuamua today using the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia to monitor for any artificial transmissions, as well as inspect the gases that surround the object and see if it contains any water.

If Oumuamua is transmitting any signals, the Green Bank telescope will pick them up quickly—since the object is relatively close to Earth, the telescope will be able to catch transmissions from a device as small as a mobile phone. The investigation will come online today at 8 PM UK time.

Alien civilizations sending a deep space probe as a messenger to other civilizations isn't as far-fetched as it sounds—the United States did the same thing with the Voyager probes, each of which contained a golden record and plate that were designed to be decoded by other lifeforms.

Hell, there was a whole Star Trek movie in 1986 about a giant, cigar-shaped alien probe coming to Earth. Let's just hope Oumuamua isn't looking for woolly mammoths to talk to.
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