In a study published in the journal Nature the researchers came to the conclusion that the movement of the body influenced the release of hydrogen molecules during the passage through the Solar System. Proponents of the theory that Oumuamua may be evidence of humanity’s first encounter with an existing extraterrestrial civilization, but the new hypothesis was not convinced.
The theory of an alien ship was supported by a Harvard astronomer
The discovery of the body Oumuamua six years ago was very significant for astronomers, because for the first time they could observe an object in the Solar System that does not come from it. Its oblong shape was also unusual – the 400-meter-long object was ten times as long as it was wide. In addition, its trajectory and acceleration could not be explained only by the gravitational action of the Sun.
Opinions appeared very quickly that the path of the body would be explained by some drive, e.g. solar.
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The theory of an extraterrestrial ship was also supported by Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb, who even wrote a book about the asteroid called Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth.
The body did not have a tail like a normal comet
Astronomers in a new study claim that the movement of the body can be explained by the fact that hydrogen molecules were released from its surface during the flyby around the Sun, which had previously been separated from the ice there during a radiolytic reaction.
One of the members of the scientific team, Darryl Seligman from Cornell University in the state of New York, mentioned that this is why the body did not have a tail like a regular comet, which also releases dust particles during the sublimation of ice.
European Space Agency (ESA) astronomer Marco Micheli said the strength of this explanation is that it “is compatible with our understanding of how interstellar objects form and does not assume that they contain exotic material not known from comets in the Solar System”.
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Although we do not observe typical cometary activity at the object, according to experts, it is highly probable that “Oumuamua arose as a remnant of a so-called planetesimal body and is significantly similar to the comets of the Solar System”.
|Planetesimals are small rocky or icy bodies about a kilometer in size that are thought to have given rise to the Solar System.|
A comet, even if it doesn’t look like it?
But Loeb was not convinced by the conclusions of the aforementioned scientists. To say that a body is a comet, even if it does not look like a comet, is untenable, according to him.
“That’s like saying an elephant is a zebra, but without stripes,” he remarked, according to the newspaper The Times.
The debate about whether Oumuamua can be evidence of the existence of an extraterrestrial civilization has, in any case, according to Seligman, a counterproductive side effect – it overshadows the fact that the object is quite extraordinary even when we do not think of it as an alien ship.
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