Do you believe in aliens? They are commonly thought of as mythological, and understandably so. However, while lanky green men may not actually exist, the word “alien” simply means “foreign”. In this vast universe, it is more than likely that somewhere there is life foreign to Earth. Even if not, there are certainly foreign objects. We know this because there has already been an alien object that has raced through our solar system. A couple of scientists have even looked into the possibility that the object could potentially be an alien spacecraft.

Battle of the scientists

It was a little over a year ago that we witnessed, for the very first time, an object from another star navigating through our own solar system. There was widespread disagreement about whether the object, entitled ‘Oumuamua, was a comet or asteroid.

ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser, CC BY

A story first picked up by Matt Williams at Universe Today revealed that two scientists, Shmuel Bialy and Avi Loeb from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, have different ideas about what the object could have been.

Could the object be from aliens?

In a study that was submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters and released on the pre-print server arXiv, Loeb and Bialy discussed some peculiarities about the object that they believe could validate the idea that the object was an alien spacecraft.

CC BY-SA 4.0 / ESO/M. Kornmesser / Oumuamua

For example, as ‘Oumuamua passed the sun, it seemed to rapidly increase in speed. Most scientists have attributed this speed boost to heat from the sun. However, Loeb and Bialy argue that it is more likely that the acceleration was due to solar radiation pressure, which might indicate that the ‘Oumuamua is comprised of thin interstellar material possibly invented by artificial origin. If this is the case, ‘Oumuamua could be a lightstail that floats in interstellar space, possibly sent to Earth by an alien civilization.

Could it be true?

Other scientists are skeptical.

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

According to Dr. René Heller from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the main problem with the theory is that it is untestable. ‘Oumuamua has gravitated too far away from the Earth to visit or even give it any further study, and it will never return again. All in all, Dr. René Heller sums up the hypothesis as “an extraordinary claim without extraordinary evidence.”