A huge cigar-shaped asteroid dubbed Oumuamua is the first ever confirmed interstellar object in recorded history that passed through our solar system this October. Oumuamua means "messenger" in the Hawaiian language.
Astronomers and space enthusiasts believe that this space rock could be an alien starship, sent by an advanced civilisation from somewhere in our universe.
This strange claim was made by the researchers involved in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) who planned to turn a powerful dish telescope towards this mysterious asteroid.
As per astronomers from the US, a cigar-shape or needle-shape is usually considered to be the apt shape for interstellar spacecraft that travel long distances.
Russian billionaire and physicist Yuri Milner is behind the largest-ever scientific research programme – Breakthrough Listen – that aims at finding evidence of civilisations beyond Earth. It intrigues the possibility about conspiracy theory behind Oumuamua transmitting radio signals to be true.
Milner met Avi Loeb, the Harvard's astronomy department chair, and came up with the announcement regarding carrying out a research on the asteroid and investigate whether it's just a space rock or much more.
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"The more I study this object, the more unusual it appears, making me wonder whether it might be an artificially made probe which was sent by an alien civilization," Loeb stated in an email to Milner, a report by futurism.com said.
The Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii was the first to detect the cigar-shaped asteroid. Initially considered a comet, Oumuamua was reclassified as an asteroid as it lacked coma. Usually asteroids are rounder but this asteroid was longer and thinner.
The Green Bank Telescope will be used by the Breakthrough Listen to listen to the object. It will be taking place on Wednesday, December 13 at 3 pm ET (Thursday, December 14, 1:20 am IST). The space rock will be analysed by the telescope for 10 hours across four bands of radio frequency with an aim to interpret the radio signal emitted from it.
"It would be difficult to work in this field if you thought that every time you looked at something, you weren't going to succeed," said Andrew Simon, the director of Berkely SETI Research Center and the leader of the center's Breakthrough Listen Initiative, as quoted by a report by The Atlantic.
Even if this doesn't throw up any findings pertaining to extraterrestrial life, it will still help researchers by providing important details regarding the presence or absence of gases and water on Oumuamua.