It could have been an alien tablet or household appliance that was seen in our solar system 4 years ago. At least, this is what Harvard professor Avi Loeb suggests. He is none other than the president Harvard’s Department of Astronomy. Loeb published his findings in his most recent book: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. He charters his own course to this conclusion, after observing “Oumuamua — a cigar- or disc-shaped object that whizzed through our solar system in 2017.” The expert’s assumption is that it could have been scrap material originating from an alien neighbour.
“The first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, 1I/2017 U1 ‘Oumuamua, was discovered Oct. 19, 2017 by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations (NEOO) Program, which finds and tracks asteroids and comets in Earth’s neighborhood. While originally classified as a comet, observations revealed no signs of cometary activity after it slingshotted past the Sun on Sept. 9, 2017 at a blistering speed of 196,000 miles per hour (87.3 kilometers per second). It was briefly classified as an asteroid until new measurements found it was accelerating slightly, a sign it behaves more like a comet” the NASA website describes.
This statement is a step towards understanding Loeb’s conviction that Oumuamua was not just any odd piece of space debris. The scientist supports himself on the appearance and behaviour of the object as well. He makes six different technical points to argue his claim in various papers, among which one published on the Scientific American blog. The shape of the object was not as per previous spatial observations. The now famous ‘cigar shape’ is a first and is one of the reasons researchers assented it being something they had never observed before.
More scientifically, the behaviour of the object, whereby its velocity increased as it left the solar system, invited further investigation. With gravity, objects within the solar system would slower down as they neared the Sun. In this case, it was the opposite, spurring the speculation and helping Loeb reach his conclusion. He then poses: ‘‘Oumuamua is like a buoy sitting at rest on the surface of the ocean, with the solar system running into it like a fast ship. Could there be an array of buoys that serves as a network of relay stations or road posts, defining the average galactic frame of reference in interstellar space?”
In an interview with the New Yorker, Loeb further says: “… I do not view the possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for two reasons. The first is that we exist. And the second is that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could develop. If you roll the dice so many times, and there are tens of billions of stars in the Milky Way, it is quite likely we are not alone.”
At Youpal Group, there are many following galactic developments, not for a mere quest of sensationalism or fantasy, but also for what technology beings from outer space could bring us. Systems Engineer Antranig Vartanian says: “I think a new technological society, especially from another planet, would be more sophisticated than ours. I think of the many possibilities they could offer us in terms of knowledge. Whether in technology or even in other fields such as medicine. Now, let’s think in terms of space- travelling devices. If they have built those, imagine the type of collaboration there could between them and us humans in the field of transportation! In any case, Avi Loeb is a very smart man. My belief is that he would try to contact them through a telecommunication device. I imagine that they have either have visited us before, or that they have seen the Voyager Golden Record and they are looking for us as well.”