Scientists Now Say Interstellar Object May Have Been Alien Probe

Scientists Now Say Interstellar Object May Have Been Alien Probe

Harvard scientists reexamined the bizarre, interstellar space object known as “Oumuamua,” which rocketed through our solar system late last year, resurrecting the possibility that it may be an alien probe. Academics and scientists were quick to write off the cigar-shaped object as a previously unknown type of bolide – a comet or asteroid – propelled in a highly unusual manner, but their observations are once again, being challenged.

Oumuamua, which means “a messenger sent to reach out in advance,” was first observed by Robert Weryk at the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. He measured the object to be several hundred meters in length, or the size of a large sports stadium.

The size and shape of the object were calculated to be able to hold up to collisions with space dust and debris while maintaining enough momentum to travel the vast distance between stars, but recent examinations found a discrepancy in its mass-to-area ratio that doesn’t quite add up.

“Known solar system objects, like asteroids and comets, have mass-to-area ratios orders of magnitude larger than our estimate for ‘Oumuamua,” said Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then ‘Oumuamua represents a new class of thin, interstellar material, either produced naturally, or of an artificial origin.”

They went on to speculate about the possibility of Oumuamua as a type of artificial satellite known as a lightsail, which is currently in development by the Breakthrough Initiative program founded by Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking. Loeb is a member of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative.

“The lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars. In the former case, dynamical ejection from a planetary system could result in space debris of equipment that is not operational anymore and is floating at the characteristic speed of stars relative to each other in the Solar neighborhood. This would account for the various anomalies of ‘Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its lightcurve,” Bialy and Loeb said.

Oumuamua hurdled through our solar system at 58,000 mph when it was discovered on Oct. 19, 2017. The object was then propelled by the Sun’s gravity, causing it to blast off on a hyperbolic trajectory out of our solar system at a rate of 196,000 mph.

This exit speed was initially attributed to a combination of a gravity assist from the Sun and outgassing – the release of gasses from a comet as its surface heats. But scientists noticed that Oumuamua didn’t show the typical “coma,” or cloud of gas, one might expect from an outgassing comet, making its high escape velocity especially strange.

This led Loeb and Bialy to consider another potential for Oumuamua… a more exciting one.

“Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that ‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” the authors said.

Unfortunately it’s way too late for us to send a probe to Oumuamua or even to photograph it so that it could be studied properly, due to simply to its sheer speed and the distance it’s already travelled from Earth. Instead, Bialy and Loeb suggest we keep our eyes out for similar objects careening through our local celestial neighborhood.

For more on the potential techno-signatures of extraterrestrial civilizations watch this episode of Deep Space :



Science Says Wormhole Travel is Real; Can We Use it for Exotic Propulsion?

Science Says Wormhole Travel is Real; Can We Use it for Exotic Propulsion?

Once believed to be sci-fi fantasy, new research suggests we may be able to achieve interstellar travel using wormholes as shortcuts through spacetime.

Recently, physicist Pascal Koiran at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France published a pre-print study detailing the potential that matter could enter the event horizon of a black hole and pass through a wormhole and exit out the other end intact. Though still highly theoretical, wormholes are believed to be incredibly unstable as they exist as a tunnel between a black hole and a white hole in another part of the universe. 

But because nothing, including light, can escape a black hole once it has crossed its event horizon, physicists have believed that matter would need to somehow enter the wormhole outside of the event horizon in order to safely pass through.

Dr. Simeon Hein, director of the Institute for Resonance, explains the mind-bending physics of this theoretical phenomenon.

“So the idea people were beginning to think, ‘well, what happens to the matter and energy that gets condensed and condensed into a black hole?’” Dr. Hein said. “The idea was that it had to be ejected somewhere else beyond that point in space. And that became the idea of a wormhole to another point in spacetime where all the matter and energy would be ejected from the black hole to conserve this idea of symmetry which is the foundation of modern physics — that there’s kind of a basic symmetry to the universe. And so the other side of the wormhole is a white hole.”

If wormholes have been conceptualized by theoretical physics for decades, what is so novel about the mathematics proposed in this recent paper?

“Physicist Pascal Koiran in France, he looked at another way to measure what’s going on in the mathematics of black holes. He used a different metric than Einstein would have used because back in the 1950s, two different physicists, David Finkelstein and Sir Arthur Eddington of the Royal Society in the UK, both proposed that there was this point of no return in the black hole where once you got past a certain point, it was no longer symmetrical, you couldn’t leave anymore, the so-called Schwarzschild radius,” Dr. Hein said.

“Past this point, you would just keep getting more compressed and you would have to go through the wormhole. So, using the so-called Finkelstein-Eddington metric — and a metric, by the way, is kind of the idea of a standard unit of measurement, a standard unit of anything: speed, direction, or position — using this measurement Koiran was able to show that it’s actually more stable than you think; that there is some stability even at the highest level of gravitational compression in a black hole. This would suggest that moving through it, maybe something really would survive.”

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