Astronomers Speculate In New Study That Asteroid Oumuamua May Be Solar Sail 'Sent From Another Civilization'

Kristine Moore

Astronomers have just published a new study in which they suggest that the large asteroid called Oumuamua may actually be a solar sail that has been sent by aliens to search for signs of life in faraway civilizations.

According to the Daily Mail, astronomers that hail from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have put forward the theory that what we think of as just an ordinary comet/asteroid may in actuality be "a lightsail of artificial origin."

The new study on Oumuamua was undertaken by Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral researcher at the CfA's Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC), and Professor Abraham Loeb, who is the director of the ITC and the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University.

Bialy and Professor Loeb have suggested that the mysterious acceleration of the asteroid could be coming from solar radiation that is propelling the massive solar sail. This may not be as far-fetched as it sounds after they describe how a sail of this kind only needs to be 0.3-0.9 mm thick to successfully make its way through the entirety of the galaxy without collapsing.

In their new research, they explain, "Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment. Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization."

As Professor Loeb notes, "Oumuamua could be the first known case of an artificial relic which floated into our Solar System from interstellar space. This opportunity establishes a potential foundation for a new frontier of space archaeology, namely the study of relics from past civilizations in space. Finding evidence for space junk of artificial origin would provide an affirmative answer to the age-old question 'Are we alone?'. This would have a dramatic impact on our culture and add a new cosmic perspective to the significance of human activity."

Professor Loeb further elucidated on the subject of Oumuamua being an alien solar sail by way of explaining that it would really be no different than us using our own technology to explore the solar system.

"Oumuamua could be an active piece of alien technology that came to explore our Solar System, the same way we hope to explore Alpha Centauri using Starshot and similar technologies. The alternative is to imagine that Oumuamua was on a reconnaissance mission. The reason I contemplate the reconnaissance possibility is that the assumption that Oumumua followed a random orbit requires the production of ~10^{15} such objects per star in our galaxy. This abundance is up to a hundred million times more than expected from the Solar System, based on a calculation that we did back in 2009. A surprisingly high overabundance, unless Oumuamua is a targeted probe on a reconnaissance mission and not a member of a random population of objects."