Since its discovery from 2017 with the Pan-STARRS telescope, the interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua shocked the whole world with its peculiar features. With the lack of a compelling explanation, the cosmic object’s characteristics ignited the imagination of those who hope for encounters with aliens.
ʻOumuamua is an oddly-shaped object that belongs to another solar system, and its motion patterns are like never seen before. At closer observations, scientists concluded that the object’s speed is accelerating, which is another weird aspect.
Propelled by an alien machine?
Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, proposes this wild claim that would explain the acceleration of the interstellar visitor. The machine would be wide, millimeter-thin, and it’s pushed by solar radiation. But as a research team proposed earlier that solid hydrogen is blasting invisibly off the cosmic object’s surface and causing it to speed up, Loeb and another astrophysicist by the name Theim Hoang come to contradict the idea.
Darryl Seligman, from the University of Chicago, grants us more details about the motion of ʻOumuamua:
Oumuamua was the first object ever seen flying into our solar system and back out again. That’s opposed to most solar system objects that turn circles around the sun, never leaving the celestial neighborhood. Its journey and the fact that it was accelerating suggested ‘Oumuamua, which is estimated to be about 1,300 to 2,600 feet (400 to 800 meters) long, was a comet. And yet, “there was no ‘coma’ or outgassing detected coming from the object,
Robert Weryk was the lucky astronomer who first spotted the interstellar visitor for the first time, and he did it from the Haleakala Observatory (Hawaii) on 19 October 2017. This was 40 days after the peculiar object passed its closest point to the Sun. During its first observation,ʻOumuamua was about 33 million km from Earth.
The new study paper was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.