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Harvard astronomer argues alien spacecraft paid us a visit

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Harvard astronomer says alien spacecraft paid us a visit

Discovering that there is intelligent life beyond our planet could be the most transformative event in human history – but what if scientists decide to collectively ignore the evidence that suggests it has already happened?

That’s the premise of a new book by a renowned astronomer, who argues that the simplest and best explanation for the highly unusual characteristics of an interstellar object that zipped through our solar system in 2017 is that it was alien technology.

Sound eccentric? Avi Loeb says the evidence is to the contrary and is convinced that his colleagues in the scientific community are so consumed with groupthink that they don’t want to use Occam’s razor.

Loeb’s stellar credentials — he was Harvard’s longest-serving chair of astronomy, published hundreds of pioneering papers, and collaborated with greats like the late Stephen Hawking — make him difficult to dismiss out of hand.

“To think that we are unique, special and privileged is arrogant,” he told AFP in a video call.

The object called Oumuamua

In October 2017, astronomers observed an object moving so quickly it could only have come from another star – the first recorded interstellar intruder.

It didn’t seem to be an ordinary stone, because after rotating around the Sun, it accelerated and deviated from the expected trajectory, driven by a mysterious force.

This could easily be explained if it was a comet spewing gas and debris – but there was no visible evidence of this “outgassing”.

The Traveler also fell in a strange way – as inferred by the way it got brighter and darker in the scientists’ telescopes, and was exceptionally luminous, possibly suggesting it was made of a shiny metal.

To explain what happened, astronomers had to come up with new theories, such as that it was made of hydrogen ice and therefore would have no visible tracks, or that it disintegrated into a cloud of dust.

“These ideas that explain the specific properties of ‘Oumuamua always involve something we’ve never seen before,” Loeb said.

“If that’s the direction we’re going, why not contemplate an artificial origin?”

sailing in the light

‘Oumuamua was never photographed up close during its brief stay – we didn’t learn of its existence until it was on its way out of our solar system.

There are two shapes that fit the observed peculiarities – long and thin like a cigar or flat and round like a pancake, almost razor thin.

Loeb says the simulations favor the latter, and he believes the object was deliberately created as a light sail propelled by stellar radiation.

Another oddity was the way the object moved – compounding the strangeness of its passage.

Before it found our Sun, ‘Oumuamua was “at rest” relative to nearby stars – statistically very rare. Rather than thinking of it as a ship flying through space, from the object’s perspective, our solar system slammed into it.

“Perhaps Oumuamua was like a buoy resting on the expanse of the universe,” writes Loeb.

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