Scientists say a huge object flying close to Earth could be an alien spacecraft
You'd think that all the space sci-fi novels and film have us well-prepped for the day aliens descend down to our little, insignificant planet that is but a fraction of a speck in our observable universe. But nope, the scientists are losing their cool and getting all giddy with excitement while I know I'm looking around with panic in my eyes plotting the escape from my desk to go and get my apocalypse supplies.
Apparently, scientists are beginning to speculate that the massive object that's been flying past earth for almost two months could be an alien spacecraft. It was first spotted in October after making a bold entrance to our solar system coming from interstellar space at a cool 300,000km/h – at least.
The thing has been named Oumuamua, and it looks to be hundreds of metres long but only one-tenth as wide. It's the first foreign object to come from another part of the galaxy to our own system, and while researchers first thought it was just a weird asteroid due to its unusually long cigar shape, now they're saying it might hail from some far away extra-terrestrial civilisation. SpoOoOoky.
Its unique shape is unlike any asteroid we've ever seen, and some are even pointing out the shape would be particularly well-designed for an interstellar spacecraft because it minimises friction and would have a better chance of navigating through interstellar gas and dust.
This kind of cigar shape hasn't been seen before in space, and it doesn't look like any kind of natural formation from our own solar system. This is what drew The Breakthrough Listen project to it – an organisation that searches for signs of extraterrestrial life founded by the Royal Society in London.
Advisor to the project and professor of astronomy at Harvard University, Avi Loeb, told The Guardian that they're keen to check if it has any kind of communicative capability.
"Most likely it is of natural origin, but because it is so peculiar, we would like to check if it has any sign of artificial origin, such as radio emissions," Loeb said. "If we do detect a signal that appears artificial in origin, we’ll know immediately."
"It’s curious that the first object we see from outside the solar system looks like that,” he said of its unique cylindrical shape. Curious indeed.
“It would be prudent just to check and look for signals,” Loeb continued. “Even if we find an artefact that was left over and there are no signs of life on it, that would be the greatest thrill I can imagine having in my lifetime.”
Researchers from the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), who fund Breakthrough Listen, are setting up their mega-powerful Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia in the US to get a better look at Oumuamua. They'll be able to track the fast-moving object flying nearby, and they're looking for possible artificial transmitters in particular.
These are exciting times, folks! Now run along and go and get your Spam and water supplies before anything too dramatic happens.