Is Oumuamua, a cigar-shaped rock that entered solar system, an alien spacecraft?

• A scientific paper led by two researchers at Harvard University made a splash this week by claiming that a cigar-shaped rock zooming through our solar system may have been sent by aliens.

• The researchers noted in a pre-print of the article that it was an “exotic scenario”, but that “Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent to the earth vicinity by an alien civilisation”.

‘Artificial sail’

• Oumuamua, the first interstellar object known to enter our solar system, accelerated faster away from the sun than expected.

• Hence the notion that some kind of artificial sail that runs on sunlight known as a light sail may have helped push it through space.

• “Currently there is an unexplained phenomena, namely, the excess acceleration of Oumuamua, which we show may be explained by the force of radiation pressure from the sun,” co-author and Harvard astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy told AFP via email.

• However this requires the body to have a very large surface and be very thin, which is not encountered in nature.

• Oumuamua, Hawaiian for “messenger” or “scout,” was first viewed by telescopes in October 2017. The alien rock is about 1,300 feet long (400 metre) long, and only about 130 feet wide.

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

Prelims level: Oumuamua

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