Why Harvard Astronomer Avi Loeb Believes the ’Oumuamua Interstellar Asteroid Is an Alien Ship

Five years ago, a very strange object made a very strange journey through the solar system.

Shiny, reddish, oblong, 300 to 3,000 feet long and traveling at 16 miles per second, the object zooms into our system and passes the sun. When Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk first noticed the object during a telescope survey in October 2017, it was removed from our system.

Astronomers were baffled by this object, which they named “Oumuamua.” That’s Hawaiian for “spies”. No one knows for sure what “ Omuamua is – or not.

Only a top scientist willing to say what others might be thinking. “ Oumumua’s speed, path, and shape are possible signs an alien profession, according to Avi Loeb, a Harvard physicist. Loeb wrote in an outstanding study in 2021.

The oblong oumuamua was first discovered in 2017.

dottedhippo via Getty

Loeb’s position – that we should at least account for the possibility that “ Oumuamua is a spacecraft and investigate accordingly – has been controversial, at least. Now, a Chinese team is trying to eliminate a key part of Loeb’s argument: If “ Oumuamua To be one alien shipit could be propelled by an ultrathin light sail that captures particles from stars.

There is no sign of a sail in the scant data we have on Oumuamua, the Chinese team asserted in their own peer-reviewed researchhas been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics and appeared online on Wednesday. “We conclude that the possibility of Oumuamua becoming a light sail is extremely unlikely,” Shangfei Liu, an astronomer at Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China, told The Daily. Beast.

It goes without saying that Loeb disagrees. “There are a few points that the authors have overlooked,” Loeb told The Daily Beast.

The argument from Shangfei and his colleagues resulted in: Lights, which capture photons the way a ship’s sails catch the wind, and are an increasingly popular way to propel the spacecraft we live in. Crafted here on Earth, tend to be big square things that reflect so many light or few light. It all depends on the angle of view of the observer as well as the degree of rotation of the aircraft they are attached to.

Avi Loeb believes that a solar sail (left) could be the reason why the asteroid is traveling at such a high speed.

Mark Garlick / Science Gallery

So as “ Oumuamua ran across the solar system, it should have been really bright at some point – and all but invisible at other times. And while `Oumuamua do brighter and darker in our opinion in its strange journey, it is not bright full, Shangfei said. “If it were a spotlight, the change in brightness would be much larger.”

But there is another explanation for Oumuamua’s “ relative opacity, says Loeb – and that is the shape of a sail. Chinese scientists assume that, if “ Oumuamua were a sailing ship, it would have a smooth sail. A flat sail will reflect more light at its brightest times than a concave sail.

But the sail “doesn’t have to be flat,” explains Loeb. He indicated that he was working with the Breakthrough Initiative, a science startup founded by Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Borisovich, on umbrella-shaped sails as part of a project. The initiative’s Starshot space probe project.

The whole argument about the shape of a sail can actually be moot. Shangfei admitted: “ Oumuamua could be a spacecraft “in other forms”. In other words, it might not have a sail — and could instead rely on some other type of propulsion system.

Astronomers generally believe that “ Oumuamua – suppose that To be a spacecraft — will have a sail because, in our experience, a sail is the best way for a ship to gain speed as more and more photons pile up. There aren’t many other technologies that we know of that can easily account for Oumuamua’s rapid growth across our network.

But it is never safe to assume that aliens will adopt the same approach to spacecraft design as we do. “Opportunity of alien civilization own much more advanced technology than ours It’s very likely in my opinion,” David Specht, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, told The Daily Beast.

If Oumuamua is an alien ship with no sails, then there are still two problems. One thing undermines Loeb’s assumptions. And another thing that detracts from the Chinese team’s point of view.

The problem for Loeb is that our observations of the speeding object clearly show anything else reflect sunlight at different angles during its journey through the sun. If Oumuamua is a ship but that reflection isn’t a sail, what exactly is it?

Loeb has a theory: Maybe “ Oumuamua was damaged. The reflector “may not be a sail at all, but merely a surface layer torn off of a larger object.”

The problem for Shangfei and his colleagues is to explain how “ Oumuamua has achieved such high speeds if it are not has a sail – and in fact not some kind of possible alien craft. They, like Loeb, have theories. It is possible that “ Oumuamua, whatever it is, is discharging gas causing velocity like some comets do. “We believe it can be explained by a number of natural phenomena,” Shangfei’s team wrote.

As the mystery surrounding “ Oumuamua deepens and more scientists get involved, there are at least two things that everyone agrees on. Firstly, we don’t have enough data to say for sure what Oumuamua is. Also, we should be ready – with more telescopes, better mathematical models and maybe even special space probes – next time something like “ Oumuamua streaks across the solar system.

Hopefully then we can say for sure whether the object has a sail, thus making it (almost certainly) an alien plane. “With [the] help generate large amounts of high-precision observational data in the future,” wrote Shangfei and his colleagues, “we will be able to identify the illuminator”.

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