A large and unusually-shaped object that has entered our solar system from a different star system was examined by one of the world’s biggest telescopes for signs of alien technology.
The elongated, cigar-shaped body was first spotted in the solar system by researchers on the Pan-Starrs telescope in Hawaii in October. The object, dubbed 'Oumuamua after the Hawaiian word for “messenger,” was observed coming from interstellar space at a maximum rate of 54.4 miles per second or 196,000 mph (315,000 kph) as it went past the sun. 'Oumuamua is located twice as far from Earth as the sun. The 400 meter-long celestial body is ten times longer than it is wide. The shape is claimed to be difficult to create through the natural, known processes of the universe.
The Green Bank telescope, located in West Virginia, examined the interstellar object as it raced through our solar system by listening for the emission of any radio signals across four different radio transmission bands. The powerful telescope can pick up signals as small as those that come from a mobile phone or microwave oven.
After scanning the object for six hours, astronomers have completed their first round of telescope observations of ‘Oumuamua. So far, they have found no evidence of artificial signals coming from the asteroid, but the search isn’t over yet. Astronomers have so far only analyzed the data from one of the four bands.
“Indeed, nothing has popped up, but we’re busy churning through the data we’ve collected so far,” said Andrew Siemion, the director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center.
Siemion said the analysis will take some time, as researchers are looking for signals from weakly transmitting or very distant technologies, bathed in a sea of signals from our own technology.
When astronomers analyze data in the range of one to two gigahertz, they can look for evidence of the molecule hydroxyl, which would suggest the presence of water on ‘Oumuamua.
Some astronomers speculate whether this space rock could be a probe of some kind, dispatched by an advanced civilization. Astronomers predict many more interstellar objects will be detected in the solar system in the years to come.
Breakthroughinitiatives.org. (2017). Breakthrough Listen to Observe Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua. [online] Available at: https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/news/14 [Accessed 21 Dec. 2017].
Koren, M. (2017). Interstellar Object Shows No Signs of Alien Technology So Far. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/12/oumuamua-yuri-milner-interstellar-asteroid/548390/ [Accessed 21 Dec. 2017].
RT International. (2017). Mysterious interstellar object to be scanned for alien tech as it flies through Solar system. [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/412800-mysterious-%CA%BBoumuamua-alien-life-telescope/ [Accessed 21 Dec. 2017].
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