Thursday, January 3, 2019

‘Oumuamua: Hunk of interstellar rock or sun-powered alien UFO?

Named ‘Oumuamua—from the Hawaiian for “scout”—various theories emerged as to what it could be. A comet was the first thought, but it lacked the trademark gaseous tail. Then it was posited to be an asteroid, but it began to accelerate at a pace that scientists were unable to explain.
This month, a pair of Harvard scientists published a paper suggesting that the object might be an abandoned alien spacecraft pushed forward by a “solar sail”—a device using energy from the sun to propel the vessel through space. In January 2019, it will travel beyond Saturn’s orbit on its way out of our solar system. In the interest of scientific rigour, Maclean’s has rounded up the hottest takes from Canada’s leading experts on what they believe ‘Oumuamua might be.

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