A cigar-shaped asteroid is getting an inordinate amount of attention due to its odd shape, with a leading astronomer suggesting it might be an alien probe.
‘Oumuamua, a recently discovered interstellar object that passed by Earth in November, has been observed to move strangely—much like an aircraft whose engines are malfunctioning.
Scientists led by Professor Stephen Hawking, whose theories have revolutionized the way we look at the universe, will be using state-of-the-art scanning equipment to discover what ‘Oumuamua actually is.
At a glance, ‘Oumuamua resembles a Zentraedi invading warship from the Japanese anime series, Macross.
Dr. Jason Wright, a leading astronomer at Penn State University put forth the possibility that it could be a broken alien spacecraft sent to probe other worlds by an alien civilization. He proposed that the object could be a “Von Neumann probe”—a self-replicating spacecraft designed for expansive space exploration.
The cigar-shaped object is about a quarter of a mile long, and one-tenth as wide, traveling at speeds of up to 196,000mph. Unlike other rocks, which simply move through space in an arced trajectory, astronomers say ‘Oumuamua is “tumbling” through the solar system on an erratic course.
Describing the object on his blog, Wright wrote: “Such derelict craft would, if they are not traveling so fast that they escape the Galaxy, eventually ‘thermalize’ with the stars and end up drifting around like any other interstellar comet or asteroid.”
“In fact, since they (presumably) no longer have attitude control, one would expect that they would eventually begin to tumble, and if they are very rigid that tumbling might distinguish them from ordinary interstellar asteroids… and in fact, just because their propulsion is broken doesn’t mean that their radio transmitters would be broken.”
Contrary to other reports, Wright does not personally believe Oumuamua to be an alien spacecraft, and expressed that he is just happy to engage in speculation within SETI context.
“I think ‘Oumuamua is interesting in its own right as an asteroid and because of how it is getting us thinking about how to find alien probes in the Solar System,” he wrote.