HUMAN’S first contact with aliens may have been MISSED, experts studying the mysterious ‘Oumuamua’ space object believe.
The I/2017 U1 is the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System and its bizarre properties has scientists completely baffled.
Dubbed ‘Oumuamua’, which means “scout” or “messenger” from the past, in Hawaiian, its eerie red hue is shinier than a typical comet.
The object, which is accelerating back into deep space, is flying on an open-ended parabola, and it’s erratic flashing led astronomers to infer that it must be long and thin.
It was believed to have entered our Solar System as far back as 1837 but was only spotted last year once close enough to the Sun to reflect sufficient light to be detected.
A NASA study suggests that ‘Oumuamua may be up to 10 times more reflective than comets typically found in our solar system.
The surface of the object may have been refreshed by ‘outgassing’, which replaced grit with new deposits of highly reflective ice to harden in its place.
And this brightness may have caused ‘Oumuamua to look bigger than it actually was, leading NASA to suspect it is less than half the original estimates of its size.
NASA’s Davide Farnocchia said: “Usually, if we get a measurement from a comet that’s kind of weird, we go back and measure it again until we understand what we’re seeing.
“But this one is gone forever; we probably know as much about it as we’re ever going to know.”
A Harvard University study used computer models to conclude that four objects orbiting between the Sun and Jupiter may have origins from outside our Solar System.
Objects 2011 SP25, 2017 RR2, 2017 SV13, and 2018 TL6 linger between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune, but they do dip past Earth on their closest approach to the Sun.
Harvard University astrophysicist Professor Abraham Loeb said: “These results are at odds with the properties of comets and asteroids in the solar system (and) are fully consistent with an artificial origin.”
“A more exotic scenario is that ‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation.”
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) argued that if ‘Oumuamua was an artefact it could potentially be emitting radio signals.
But, after using the Allen Telescope Array to monitor the object for several weeks, the radio telescope revealed no interstellar broadcast or probing radar was detected.
Astronomers are now resigned to waiting for the Gaia Space Telescope to continue its survey of space and hope it will throw up further possibilities.
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Curtin University’s Professor of radio astronomy, Steven Tingay said: “Whatever ‘Oumuamua is (almost certainly not made by aliens, in my view), it is a fascinating object.
“It presents lots of interesting scientific questions that will trigger further studies and observations.”
A version of this story first appeared in news.com.au