Advertisement
  1. News

Scientists are watching an asteroid called 'Oumuamua because they think it could be an alien ship

This is an artist's rendering of the asteroid â\u0080\u0098Oumuamua, which scientists are studying to see if it's an alien ship. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Published Dec. 13, 2017

Scientists are studying an object that's tumbling through our solar system to see if it's a disabled alien spaceship.

You read that right.

Unlike other asteroids, this object — called 'Oumuamua — is cigar-shaped and is twirling through space unlike any mankind has seen before.

"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," the astronomical group Breakthrough Listen said in a news release.

According to an article in Scientific American, "That would mean it is like no asteroid ever seen before, instead resembling the collision-minimizing form favored in many designs for notional interstellar probes."

"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 exploration group, which is funded by billionaire Yuri Milner, said in its release.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii discovered the object in October as it passed earth at about 85 times the distance to the Moon – a stone's throw, in astronomical terms, Breakthrough Listen said in its statement.

The name 'Oumuamua is Hawaiian for "first messenger."

The object looped around the sun and is now halfway to Jupiter, according to Scientific American, and is getting out of reach of the most powerful telescopes.

'Oumuamua is about is about a quarter of a mile long and 260 feet wide and has traveled at speeds of up to 196,000 mph.

"So far there are few if any wholly satisfactory explanations as to how such an extremely elongated solid object could naturally form, let alone endure the forces of a natural high-speed ejection from a star system—a process thought to involve a wrenching encounter with a giant planet," says the Scientific American article.

On Wednesday afternoon, Breakthrough Listen planned to aim a huge telescope in West Virginia at 'Oumuamua for 10 hours.

"With our equipment ... we can detect a signal the strength of a mobile phone coming out of this object," Milner says. "We don't want to be sensational in any way, and we are very realistic about the chances this is artificial, but because this is a unique situation we think mankind can afford 10 hours of observing time using the best equipment on the planet to check a low-probability hypothesis."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Mohammed "Mo" Haitham, 19, posted this photo of himself to Facebook Dec. 3. FACEBOOK IMAGE
    Mohammed Haitham just finished boot camp and had been reassigned to Pensacola.
  2. Paul Skalnik in a 1987 Pinellas County Sheriff's Office booking mug. He played a pivotal rule in the death row sentences of multiple inmates.
    From the archives: The Tampa Bay Times has covered Paul Skalnik, the subject of ProPublica and New York Times story, since 1987.
  3. St. Petersburg police said they arrested Jesse Millis-Dwyer after Homeland Security detected him uploading a sexually explicit photo of a 12-year-old girl to a Russian photo-sharing site. St. Pete
    Police said he uploaded photo to Russian picture-sharing site
  4. This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.  The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response.   (WEAR-TV via AP) AP
    Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot...
  5. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  6. This rendering shows Scientology's proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium with an all-glass facade at the corner of Garden Avenue and Court Street in downtown Clearwater. [Courtesy City of Clearwater]
    Plans for L. Ron Hubbard Hall go back 26 years. If constructed, it would have more seats than Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  7. Classic Reflections Carriages is offering carriage rides starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19-21 throughout downtown Brooksville. Reservations are made in person on each event date, starting at 4 p.m., in front of the historic courthouse. Brooksville Main Street
    Holiday events in Pasco and Hernando counties
  8. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  9. A Brinks security guard was shot during a robbery attempt at a GTE Financial credit union in Brandon Friday morning. TONY MARRERO  |  Times
    Deputies thought they had the suspect pinned down at the Bridgeport Apartments, but he fled.
  10. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement