Space rock or alien probe?
Harvard scientists have speculated that a mysterious, cigar-shaped rock that was spotted tumbling through our solar system may be a probe “sent by an alien civilization”—a claim that has been met with widespread skepticism from other astronomers. Nicknamed Oumuamua, which means “a messenger that reaches out from the distant past” in Hawaiian, the object was first spotted a year ago, and its trajectory indicated it came from outside the solar system, reports Vox.com. Astronomers were intrigued by its unusual shape: The rock is about 1,300 feet long by 130 feet wide. They were even more intrigued when Oumuamua accelerated after passing the sun. This could have been because the rock was expelling debris, much like a comet—but the researchers saw no visual evidence of a tail. One admittedly “exotic scenario” put forward by the Harvard team: Oumuamua may in fact be a “fully operational” alien probe, made from a strong, thin material that acts as a giant sail blown by solar radiation. Other astronomers described the theory as “fun and thought provoking,” but said there was no evidence to support it. ■