Scientists at SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) have chimed in to give their thoughts on the mysterious object, which has been named Oumuamua, that flew past Earth in October.
The name Oumuamua is Hawaiian for “first messenger” as it was their telescope that noticed the body flying past earth first.
At first scientists presumed it was an asteroid. However, a number of strange characteristics have led them to wonder whether it might have been intentionally formed.
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As they are getting ready to point a more powerful telescope at the object, the organization stated that: "Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimize friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust.”
"While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that Oumuamua could be an artifact."
The lead scientist on the project, Mr Andrew Siemion, who is also director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, said he is very excited to get started: “Typically in astronomy we don’t see things that are rare. If we see one, that means there’s a lot more out there.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BreakthroughListen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BreakthroughListen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SETI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SETI</a> project is currently observing the interstellar asteroid <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oumuamua?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Oumuamua</a> as it speeds into deep space — just in case it's an alien spaceship: <a href="https://t.co/rUkXdpqyHt">https://t.co/rUkXdpqyHt</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/news?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#news</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/astronomy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#astronomy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/radioastronomy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#radioastronomy</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/brkthroughprize?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@brkthroughprize</a> <a href="https://t.co/H4xBRpy9C2">pic.twitter.com/H4xBRpy9C2</a></p>— AstroSociety Pacific (@AstroSocietyPac) <a href="https://twitter.com/AstroSocietyPac/status/940290748301303808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 11, 2017</a></blockquote>
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“So, while this is most likely a natural object, if we don’t eventually see any more, that would indeed be very strange and would increase interest from a SETI perspective.”
“‘Oumuamua’s presence within our solar system affords Breakthrough Listen an opportunity to reach unprecedented sensitivities to possible artificial transmitters and demonstrate our ability to track nearby, fast-moving objects. Whether this object turns out to be artificial or natural, it’s a great target.”