Why Stephen Hawking says MASSIVE space object could be alien mothership

Why Stephen Hawking says MASSIVE space object could be alien mothership

When 'Oumuamua passed by Earth, it did so at about 85 times the distance from us to the Moon, which is a "stone's throw", according to Breakthrough Initiatives. The October 19 discovery came after the object had already made its closest approach to Earth five days before.

Most asteroids are usually spherical in shape but Oumuamua is oblong and elongated like a cigar.

Originally thought to be a comet, the object revealed characteristics that are more similar to an asteroid-more rock and less ice. The name means "scout" or "messenger" in Hawaiian.

Rather than moving through space like other space rocks, astronomers believe that it is "tumbling" through our solar system.

"Oumuamua", the first observed interstellar asteroid, is shown in an artist's illustration.

After further telescope observations, astronomers described it as an unusually oblong asteroid with dense, metal-rich rock.

The object is so faint and so fast - it's zooming through the solar system at 40,000 miles per hour. It takes 10 years to cross our solar system, providing plenty of future viewing opportunities, the scientists said.

But if a radio signal does come back, scientists will need to proceed with caution.

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The second possibility is that the object came from a nearby star only known as TYC4742-1027-1.

The object in question is 'Oumuamua, an asteroid from another star system now zipping past Jupiter at about 196,000 miles per hour, too fast to be trapped by the sun's gravitational pull.

In a press release from the European Southern Observatory, scientists got a little more specific about color and form, noting that 'Oumuamua is likely dark red because of the radiation in space, and that it's unusually massive for an object hurtling through space.

Dr Wright suggests the object may be a "Von Neumann probe" - a self-replicating probe which scientists theorise might be a way that aliens explore other solar systems.

Jason Wright, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, said the "tumbling" motion of the unusual object is what he'd expect to see if an alien spacecraft was drifting through space after its engines had failed.

Why did it take so long to nail the first interstellar wanderer?

Are intelligent extraterrestrials trying to communicate with or study us? And yet we have only found one, a testament to how small, dim, fast, and spread out these objects are. Weird. But even weirder is 'Oumuamua's shape. The object will not leave the solar system for about 20,000 years, but it will be invisible to our telescopes in only a month or so. The researchers dubbed these types of interstellar objects, sola lapis, Latin for "lonely rock".

Yet all of its features are "entirely consistent with being a natural object", said Karen Meech, the University of Hawaii astronomer who led the research team to measure 'Oumuamua's physical properties.

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