by Cynthia McKanzie
April 29, 2019
'Oumuamua keeps causing controversy and with good reason.
We still don't know the
nature of this visitor from a distant corner of the Universe. 'Oumuamua
was first detected two years ago, and scientists are still debating
whether it's an asteroid, comet or alien artifact.
To complicate the issue even more, a scientist is now proposing,
'it's not the first
visitor from outer space'...
Loeb, Chair of Harvard's Astronomy Department has
previously suggested 'Oumuamua is an alien "light sail".
Together with Shamuel Bialy, another Harvard Professor, Loeb
in a paper (Could
Solar Radiation Pressure explain 'Oumuamua's peculiar Acceleration?)
for the Astrophysical Journal Letters that 'Oumuamua might
have been a,
"light sail, floating
in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological
According to Loeb, the
object's "peculiar acceleration", suggested 'Oumuamua,
"may be a fully
operational probe sent intentionally to Earth's vicinity by an
Now, together with
undergraduate student Amir Siraj, Loeb,
a NASA catalogue of meteors for unusual, 'Oumuamua-like
trajectories, and managed to identify a tiny meteor that had
burned up in Earth's atmosphere back in 2014.
The space rock of 90 cm in diameter disintegrated above Papua
New Guinea, but its inexplicable speed, 60 km/s (134,216 mph),
indicated that the object was not bound by the Sun's gravity,"
In the new study (Discovery
of a Meteor of Interstellar Origin), the research team
writes that Oumuamua' high speed,
"implies a possible
origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in
the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy".
"One would expect a much higher abundance of smaller
interstellar objects, with some of them colliding with Earth
frequently enough to be noticeable.
enables a new method for studying the composition of
interstellar objects, based on spectroscopy of their gaseous
debris as they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere", Loeb and
Von Neumann Probe: Hypothetical space probes capable of
Is 'Oumuamua an extraterrestrial probe sent here to watch us?
They make it clear 'Oumuamua is not the first interstellar visitor.
"Our discovery also
implies that at least 450 million similarly sized interstellar
bolide events have occurred over Earth's lifetime.
interstellar meteors could deliver life from another planetary
system and mediate panspermia."
Interestingly, the high
speed for the meteor discussed here implies a likely origin in the
habitable zone of the abundant population of dwarf stars, indicating
that similar objects could carry life from their parent planetary
systems, scientists write.
Loeb thinks an advanced
extraterrestrial civilization could be capable of constructing a
probe sent to monitor humanity.
He is not the first one
to come up with this idea. Other researchers have previously
suggested that a fleet of extraterrestrial probes might watch our
The belief that extraterrestrial exist is not far-fetched according
to Loeb who thinks 'Oumuamua might be a "message in a bottle."
"I do not view the
possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for
The first is that we exist.
And the second is
that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy
have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very
similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could
develop, "Loeb said in an interview with The New Yorker.