When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize it into any known object. While it looked a lot like an asteroid or a comet, it lacked many of the features we’d expect from both. It was later nicknamed Oumuamua, and it continues to captivate scientific minds to this day.
Given the peculiar circumstances surrounding Oumuamua, experts haven’t yet ruled out alternative elucidations, including some of the more far-fetched ones. For example, some scientists from Harvard argue the idea that it could have been an alien spacecraft.
Although unlikely, the theory has yet to be disproven. As it would seem, Oumuamua’s course through our solar system moved in weird and unexpected ways that can’t be explained by the Sun’s gravitational influence alone, and this gave rise to the alien spacecraft theory. Instead, the object was supercharged with added oomph that allegedly originated from unknown sources.
Other scientists say this movement could have been accounted for if Oumuamua were a comet because outgassing could have provided the extra energy, but the object lacked the trail we’d expect to see in a comet, which ruled out the comet theory. Another idea is that solar pressure may have resulted in the unexplained acceleration, but this force is only known to influence ultra-light objects like solar sails.
Whether you buy the alien spacecraft theory or not remains to be seen. It is, without a doubt, one of the more eccentric explanations encompassing Oumuamua, but there isn’t enough data to discern what it was, and the object is already leaving the solar system as we speak.
Astronomers have accepted that we won’t be getting any new observations of Oumuamua anytime soon, but they hope another object just like it will visit us in the near future, enabling them to learn more about these mysterious interstellar visitors and what they are.