Harvard Astronomer Defends Claim That "Oumuamua" Is An Alien Spacecraft

In a new interview with the newspaper Haaretz, the chair of Harvard University’s Astronomy Department Avi Loeb defended his controversial hypothesis that the interstellar object known as ‘Oumuamua could be an alien probe — and speculated at length about the place of humanity in the cosmos.

“As soon as we leave the solar system, I believe we will see a great deal of traffic out there,” he told Haaretz. “Possibly we’ll get a message that says, ‘Welcome to the interstellar club.’ Or we’ll discover multiple dead civilizations — that is, we’ll find their remains.”

After astronomers first spotted the object later dubbed ‘Oumuamua — a Hawaiian word that means “messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to us” — Loeb and a colleague speculated that a hypothetical propulsion device called a solar sail could explain its odd trajectory. Another odd finding was that the object’s brightness from reflected sunlight changed by a factor of ten as it spun, implying that it could be a cigar- or pancake-shaped object tumbling through space — an extremely unusual geometry for naturally-occurring asteroids.

An attempt to listen for radio signals from the mysterious object came up dry, but Loeb told Haaretz that he stands by the possibility that the probe is of intelligent origin.

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