‘Lump of Rock’ Oumuamua Dashes Hopes of Alien-Seeking Stargazers
Photo: ESO/M. KornmesserTech12:50 19.12.2017(updated 13:03 19.12.2017) Get short URL121
The mysterious cigar-shaped object that wandered into our solar system is not the alien spaceship many stargazers hoped for, as confirmed by a team of Queen’s University scientists in Belfast.
The conclusion dashed the hopes of many of those who had thought that it might be evidence of alien life ever since the interstellar object, named Oumuamua, was first discovered by telescopes in Hawaii nearly two months ago.
The seven-strong team of researchers, who have been training their telescopes on the heavenly intruder, concluded that it is just a piece of unusually-shaped rock zooming through space, The Irish Times reported.
The scientists have determined that Oumuamua is covered by a dry crust approximately 1.6 feet thick preventing its icy inner core from vaporizing under the heat of the Sun as it passed just 35 million kilometers away from our luminary in September at 130,000 miles an hour.
“We have also found that a half-meter thick coating of organic-rich material could have protected a water-ice-rich comet-like interior from vaporizing when the object was heated by the sun, even though it was heated to over 300 degrees Centigrade,” the team’s lead researcher Alan Fitzsimmons said in a statement.
He added that this, as well as its pinkish color, made Oumuamua similar to the minor planets in our solar system likewise covered with carbon-rich ice.
Scientists believe the resemblance of the first interstellar object discovered to many other heavenly bodies found in our solar system suggests that “the way our planets and asteroids formed has a lot of kinship to the systems around other stars.”
When the unusual, cigar-shaped object was first spotted in September, initial observations suggested it was a comet.
Astronomers have since been looking at Oumuamua across four different radio frequency bands for anything that might approximate an artificial signal resulting from alien technology.
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