Did a piece of ‘defunct alien technology’ visit our solar system three and a half years ago? As scientists continue to search for signs of alien life in outer space, an interstellar object called ‘Oumuamua has been identified by a Harvard University professor as the first alien technology in the Earth’s solar system.
He calls it “a piece of defunct alien technology”.
On October 19, 2017, Canadian physicist and astronomer Robert Weryk discovered the ‘Oumuamua’, formally designated as 1I/2017 U1, as the first known interstellar object passing through the planet’s solar system.
Weryk was using the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakalā Observatory in Hawaii, when he spotted the object 40 days after it had passed its closest point to the Sun on September 9, 2017.
Now, Harvard University professor Avi Loeb claims ‘Oumuamua may have been our first encounter with alien technology.
So, what are interstellar objects? They are celestial objects such as asteroids, comets, or rogue planets in interstellar space that are not gravitationally bound to a star.
They could also be objects that are on interstellar trajectory but are temporarily passing close to a star, such as certain asteroids and comets.
Scientists around the world are busy discovering numerous habitable planets around other stars in the Milky Way galaxy, including Proxima Centauri, a small, located 4.2465 light-years away from the Sun in the southern constellation of Centaurus.
Despite all this, nobody has found signs of intelligent life yet either in our galaxy or outside it. Several scientific ideas have been pitched forward to explore the possibility of intelligent life in outer space, one of them being the ‘Drake Equation’.
The ‘Drake Equation’ involves a probabilistic argument that has been used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy, however, there are still no breakthroughs in that particular quest.
While films like Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 release Arrival have depicted exactly how the humans on Earth might engage in close encounters with the aliens from outer space, and have a peaceful exchange of advanced technology, no such things have been sighted yet.
However, according to Avi Loeb’s upcoming book, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life, ‘Oumuamua may have been our first encounter with alien technology.
Loeb calls ‘Oumuamua “a piece of defunct alien technology”, with the object coming from the direction of Vega, a nearby star around 25 light-years away, which crossed the Earth’s solar system almost three and a half years ago.
“It intercepted the orbital plane, within which all of the planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, on September 6, 2017,”
“But the object’s extreme hyperbolic trajectory guaranteed it would only visit, not stay,” writes Loeb.
‘Oumuamua is a small object, estimated to be between 100 and 1,000 meters long, with its width and thickness possibly between 35 and 167 meters. It has a dark red color.
While ʻOumuamua was the first interstellar object to be spotted in the Solar System, it was soon followed by 2I/Borisov, the second such object discovered in 2019.
Both objects possess significant hyperbolic excess velocity, thereby indicating that neither of the two originated in the Solar System.
‘Oumuamua seemed to have been accelerating in a way that something was pushing on it, something which has continued to raise questions.
However, according to an expert, Rafi Letzer, one of the explanations behind its movement could be that the object was propelled by an alien machine, such as a ‘LightSail’ — a wide, millimeter-thin machine that accelerates as it’s pushed by solar radiation.
LightSail is a crowdfunded project from The Planetary Society to demonstrate that solar sailing is a viable means of propulsion for small spacecraft.
Although, according to most scientists, the acceleration could be down to just a natural phenomenon, with a research team proposing that solid hydrogen could have played a role in blasting invisibly off the ‘Oumuamua’s surface, causing it to speed up.
Loeb says the ‘Oumuamua’s discovery may be linked to other civilizations looking for answers as well.
“Our civilization has sent five man-made objects into interstellar space: Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, and New Horizons,
“This fact alone is suggestive of our unlimited potential to venture far out. So too is the behavior of our more distant ancestors,” he writes.
“And if other civilizations developed out there among the stars, wouldn’t they have felt that same urge to explore, to venture past familiar horizons in search of the new? Judging by human behavior, that would not be surprising in the least.”