On October 17, 2017, we spotted our solar system’s first interstellar visitor. The strange object, named Oumuamua, was believed to be a comet, asteroid, or piece of a shredded planet. However, a pair of scientists suggested the object could be an extraterrestrial spacecraft.
Matthew Knight, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, and Sean Raymond, a member of the ISSI team, came together to write the study according to which aliens might have visited us. Their paper was published a few days ago in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The two scientists say that our solar system has never, in recorded history, encountered anything like Oumuamua. Knight was part of the ISSI team at the time Oumuamua was first spotted. Since the object had a relatively rapid speed, astronomers only had a few weeks to gather as much information about is as possible. Knight said: “The alien spacecraft hypothesis is a fun idea, but our analysis suggests there is a whole host of natural phenomena that could explain it.”
Astronomers try to determine the origin of Oumuamua, the interstellar visitor that puzzled the scientists
Oumuamua was small, red, and cigar-shaped. The mysterious object had a strange spin and an unexplainable change in direction. It has been suggested that, if the object truly is an alien spacecraft, it could have jets that could alter its spin and course. However, no sign of jets was recorded, so scientists were quick to eliminate this idea.
Another possible explanation for the weird movement of Oumuamua could be solar radiation. Even Oumuamua shape is uncertain. While it appeared to be cigar-shaped, it might as well have been pancake-shaped, since scientists did not have enough time to observe it to determine its shape.
As telescope technology is continuously evolving, we might start spotting more objects of this kind in our solar system. Who knows? Maybe they were always there, and we just did not have the technology necessary to see them.