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Scientists: ‘Oumuamua may be alien after all

By Maria Korolov

‘Oumuamua, a weird interstellar object that was discovered passing through our solar system in 2017, might be alien after all.

And not just alien as in foreign, but alien as in built by aliens, scientists say.

Artist’s impression of the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, `Oumuamua. (Image courtesy European Space Organization.)

At first, there was speculation by scientists at Harvard that the object was alien because it was accelerating.

It could be debris from a now-defunct craft tumbling through the galaxy, or that it was launched as a sort of reconnaissance probe from elsewhere in the galaxy.

“Pne possibility is that ‘Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as debris from advanced technological equipment,” said Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, in a paper for The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Or even something else. “‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” he added.

Then scientists at Yale thought that it was accelerating because it was just a giant hydrogen iceberg, and as the hydrogen thawed it pushed the object forward. No aliens involved.

But this month, Harvard’s Loeb argued in a follow-up paper that couldn’t have been a hydrogen iceberg because it would have melted long ago.

So the aliens are back in the mix.

As Loeb said back in 2018, quoting Sherlock Holmes, “When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

MetaStellar publisher and news editor Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist who covers artificial intelligence, extended reality and cybersecurity at her day job. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter here. Email her at [email protected].