Thursday, March 14, 2019

Scientists reject Harvard's "alien" theory of interstellar object

A scientific article signed by two researchers at Harvard University caused a stir this week by claiming that a huge elongated rock that runs through our Solar System may have been sent by aliens.
Oumuamua ", as it was called, was discovered in October 2017 by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii, and hence its name, meaning "messenger" in Hawaiian. It is about 400 meters long and 40 meters wide, and has been recorded by several telescopes as the first known object from another star system.
After being described as an asteroid, a team from the European Space Agency estimated in June that it was more likely to be a comet (with ice that becomes gas near the Sun).
But according to these Harvard researchers, an "exotic scenario" would be that " Oumuamua  may be a fully operational probe intentionally sent to the vicinity of the Earth by an alien civilization," they write in an article to be published on November 12. in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The idea quickly ignited Twitter and the scientific community.
The reason for this assumption is that  Oumuamua  moves at a faster pace than expected. "There is currently an unexplained phenomenon, namely, Oumuamua's excess acceleration   that we show can be explained by the force of solar radiation pressure," Harvard co-author and astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy said in an e- mail on Tuesday.
However, he noted, this is only possible for celestial bodies "that have a large surface and are very thin, which does not exist in nature." And therefore, I could have that other explanation:  Oumuamua  is a propelled probe.
Scientists had rejected this theory soon after the object was found. No artificial signals were found from the body.
"Like most scientists, I would love to have irrefutable evidence of extraterrestrial life, but it is not," said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astrophysicist at Queens University in Belfast.
"It has already been shown that their observed characteristics are consistent with a body similar to a comet ejected from another star system," he told AFP. "And some of the arguments in this study are based on figures with large uncertainties."


Katie Mack, an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University, also disagreed with the extraterrestrial approach.
"What you have to understand is that scientists are happy to publish an extravagant idea if they have the slightest chance of not being wrong," he wrote on Twitter.
"But until each of the other possibilities has not been exhausted a dozen times, even probably not even the authors create it," he added.
Asked if he believed the proposed hypothesis, Bialy told AFP: "I would not say 'I believe' that it is sent by extraterrestrials, since I am a scientist and not a believer, and I trust the evidence to present a possible physical explanation for the Observed phenomena. "

The other author, Avi Loeb, head of the Harvard Department of Astronomy, told NBC that humanity may not know more about the mysterious object, since it has already moved far away from Earth and will not return. "It is impossible to guess the purpose behind  Oumuamua  without further information."

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