amsterdam - Is the elongated, red-colored object of 400 meters long and 40 meters that was spotted in October by astronomers a space probe that was built by extraterrestrials? Or is it an ordinary piece of space rock? A group of scientists hopes to receive an answer to that question.
The object has been given the name 'Oumuamua, Hawaiian for' explorer '. The thing is the very first sighted visit from another solar system. Not surprising, therefore, that many astronomers are delighted with the appearance of 'Oumuamua, which is the most out of a huge, flying cigar. A cigar with a decent speed, though. The A / 2017 U1 travels 44 kilometers per second: nearly 160,000 kilometers per hour. That fact was sufficient for a few eager astronomers to conclude that the object is not a normal asteroid or comet, but that will have to be proven.
The researchers think that the object has been roaming the Milky Way for hundreds of millions of years, not tied to a star. Probably he has done 300,000 years to make the crossing of the star Vega to our solar system. The form, which is not so special for space objects, has nevertheless made a group of jubilant researchers think: previous scientific studies on space travel suggested that elongated probes are the most suitable for long-term trips in our enormous cosmos. Because these aerodynamic objects simply have the least to fear from interstellar gas.
Although it is more plausible that 'Oumuamua has a natural origin, astronomers want to exclude that it is an artificial object. The research, which starts this week, involves searching with a transmitter for signals that indicate this. 'Oumuamua will also be investigated with the Green Bank Telescope (the largest radio telescope in the world, in West Virginia, ed.).
'Oumuamua is now about twice as far away from the earth as the sun. The chance that the researchers get some sign of life is small. 'Even though we find something that indicates an artificial origin, but we do not find any signs of life, it is still the greatest discovery I will make in my life,' says one of scientists who is closely connected with the research. 'Then one of the most fundamental questions will be answered: Are we alone?'
Because the object rages through space at such a high speed, the investigation has to be speeded up. Around the turn of the year he will probably be too vague to see. In May 2018 he flies by Jupiter, in January 2019 he passes Saturn. Then he will slowly leave our solar system behind, on our way to the constellation Pegasus.
The investigation into 'Oumuamua is paid for by the Russian Yuri Milner. He started last year the million project Breakthrough Listen: a project that is focused on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The Russian has paid a whopping 100 million dollars out of pocket for the search for ET. There is a lot of skepticism about Milner's research. For example, Karen Meech, one of the astronomers who discovered 'Oumuamua, states that her observations of the asteroid give no indication that the piece of space debris would have an artificial origin.