The Oumuamua Anomaly - Could Aliens Have Visited Our Solar System?
Space, the final frontier. Aliens, visitors from another planet. If you’ve listened to this podcast before, you know that we’ve investigated the potential for extraterrestrial life before and we are no skeptics. If you’re just tuning in, check out episodes 1, 6, 18, 25, to hear more about our alien theories or episode 37 where we discussed a bunch of Russians getting lost in space.
Tonight, however, we will be whipping out our huge magnifying glasses and taking a much more detailed look at some recent interstellar events.
On October 19, 2017, the first interstellar object detected in the solar system, ‘Oumuamua, was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey. Oumuamua is Hawaiian for Scout, keep that in mind as it will become important later.
This story is going to contain some science talk and space mumbo jumbo at times, so try to bear with us.
The following October, Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, co-wrote a paper (with a Harvard postdoctoral fellow, Shmuel Bialy) that examined ‘Oumuamua’s “peculiar acceleration” and suggested that the object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilization.”
To understand Oumuamua’s significance we need to understand what sets it apart from any other space rock floating through our system. Scientist have found several anomalies involved. The first, is called Keplerian Orbit.
Keplerian orbit is the motion of one celestial object relative to another, in that when they are in gravitational pull with one another, the form a gentle curve. Its like in Armageddon when Billy Bob Thorton tells Bruce Willis that they are going to slingshot around the moon, basically you use gravity to turn in space.
The anomaly here and I can’t underwrite this is that Oumuamua did not display this motion when all other asteroids and comets would have this flight path. Not only did Oumuamua not display this, it deviated thirty times away from standard projections. Basically it wasn’t just a little off, it was way off.
I can’t stress this enough, this object’s orbit is deviating from an orbit that is shaped purely by the gravitational force of the sun. It’s telling the sun’s gravity to fuck off.
The Second Anomaly - it shouldn’t have existed.
In an interview with Avi Loeb, he says that scientists can calculate the rate at which the solar system ejected rocks during its history. And if the assume all systems around other stars are doing the same thing they can assume what the population of interstellar objects should be.
The Third Anomaly - Acceleration
In addition to it’s strange orbit, scientist also believe to have observed Oumuamua accelerated in space which is definitely not a thing they normally see.
When scientists look at all the stars in the vicinity of our sun, they move relative to the sun and the sun moves relative to them, meaning that rocks ejected by a solar system, typically move at a close speed.
Only one in five hundred stars is moving as Oumuamua, meaning that if it came from another star that star would be highly unique.
Scientists theorized perhaps it was the light from the sun could be the accelerant, but the thickness of that object would need to be less than a milimeter to work. This could still be possible but solar sails are not a naturally occuring thing, meaning….
The Fourth Anomaly - Brightness
Through observations, scientists have postulated the object rotates about every eight hours, and when rotating the light it gives off varies by a factor of ten meaning they can qualitatively measure at least ten different light strengths coming from the object.
Typically with asteroids, scientists will observe a brightness variance of three, leading them to believe this has much more extreme and intentional geometry, Loeb theorizes it could be Pancake Shaped even.
This also means that the Oumuamua is ten times longer than it is wide. Some artist renderings on the web have it shaped like a cigar or large turd.
Anomaly Five - Lack of Cometary tail
Comets have however, deviated in their orbits and trajectories in the past but crucially, when this happens it causes what is called a cometary tail.
On the rare occaisions when civilians are able to observe comets, they will see a streak of gasses coming from the rear as it glides through space. This is caused by the evaporation of ice on the surface of the comet, creating gasses that push the comet like a rocket ship.
Oumuamua does not have this. Meaning we have seen things accelerate in space but this is the only thing that we have seen accelerate yet not display a characteristic observed by ALL OTHER THINGS THAT ACCELERATE IN SPACE.
The Sixth Anomaly - Heat
Despite the objects trajectory through space and proximity to our star, astronomers could not detect heat radiating from the object at all, which is uncommon for comets or asteroids who heat up occasionaally through the friction of traveling in space.
One last note
Before you speculate wildly, lets at least address, was another quote by Loeb that I found very interesting when he discussed his views on whether this was an alien spacecraft or a hunk of dirt in space:
“Suppose you took a cell phone and showed it to a caveperson. The caveperson would say it was a nice rock. The caveperson is used to rocks. So now imagine this object—‘Oumuamua—being the iPhone and us being the cave people. We look at it and say it’s a rock. It’s just an unusual rock. The point of this analogy is that, for a caveperson, the technologies we have today would have been magic. They would have been God-given.”