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Astronomers To Check Mysterious Interstellar Object For Signs Of Technology
Strange tumbling motion of cigar-shaped interstellar 'comet' Oumuamua suggests it's an alien probe with broken engines, says leading astronomer(CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 376)
Dec 13, 2017 Science & Technology
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  • Oumuamua is a cigar-shaped asteroid that passed by Earth last month
  • DJ Jason Wright suggests that it could be sent by an alien civilisation
  • He claims that object's movement is the same as a craft whose engines failed
  • Today, scientists led by Professor Stephen Hawking will use high-tech scanners to discover if Oumuamua was sent by an alien civilisation

Today, scientists led by Stephen Hawking are using high-tech scanners to discover if a huge, cigar-shaped 'comet' is in fact, an alien probe.

At least one astronomer claims that the space rock, named Oumuamua, could be an alien spacecraft with broken engines that is tumbling through our solar system.

Dr Jason Wright from Penn State University suggests that a broken alien spacecraft would move in exactly the same way as the interstellar comet.

Oumuamua is about 800m long, 80m wide and currently travelling at around 20km per second. Oumuamua was discovered in October by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope. Unlike any normal asteroid, rather than moving through space like other space rocks, astronomers believe that it is 'tumbling' through our solar system. Based on its trajectory, it came to our solar system from the general direction of the star Vega.

Writing in his blog, Dr Wright, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, says: "Such derelict craft would, if they are not travelling so fast that they escape that Galaxy, eventually 'thermalise' with the starts and end up drifting around like any other interstellar comet or asteroid. "

"In fact, since they no longer have attitude control, one would expect that they would eventually begin to tumble, and if they are very rigid that tumbling might distinguish them from ordinary interstellar asteroids… and in fact, just because their propulsion is broken doesn't mean that their radio transmitters would be broken."

Oumuamua is currently about 2 astronomical units away from Earth, or about twice as far as the Earth is from the Sun. That's still much closer than many of the probes we've sent into space, such as Cassini and New Horizons. If it is an alien probe sending radio transmissions we should be capable of detecting them.

Dr Wright suggests that the object could be a 'Von Neumann probe' - a theoretical self-replicating spacecraft that visits star systems.

Just to be clear, the odds of finding anything are really slim. Studies so far haven't found anything that would imply an artificial origin. But even if the listening doesn't find anything, their observations will add to those we already have, and help us better understand asteroids that are rare, but natural, alien visitors.

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al-i-en

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adj.异己/外国的

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a small rocky body going around the sun


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probe

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v.探测

pro-fes-sor

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