Scientific explanation of the mystery of interstellar | Oumuamua’s vision, in 2017, has intrigued and given rise to the most diverse theories

a A mysterious interstellar objectr that visited the solar system in 2017 has baffled astrophysicists and spawned all kinds of theories, including that it was an alien spacecraft. Most likely it was An unusual type of kiteExplains a thesis published Wednesday in the journal nature.

Oumuamuawhich means “scout” in Hawaiian, was discovered by an observatory in California in October 2017. Its features were unusual: Oumuamua did not look like known comets, nor did it have a tail or halo, both of which are composed of dust and gas interacting with sunlight. In addition, its shape was reminiscent of a cigar.

It was about 100 meters in diameter, roughly the size of a football field, but its length was up to 10 times that, which gave it its odd shape. The object’s intermittent light confirmed that it was working on itself.

After reaching the point closest to the Sun in its trajectory, and its maximum velocity due to the effect of gravity, it set off again into interstellar space. But it kept accelerating as if it was being propelled by a mysterious force.

The data collected for four months about that mysterious visitation has fueled all kinds of speculation.

hydrogen reactor

For Jennifer Bergner, an astrophysicist at the University of Berkeley and co-author of the new study, the theories that sparked extraterrestrial visitation “beyond imagination.” in your opinion, Oumuamua was a particularly water-rich organism, which was modified during its path through the boundary of the universe by the action of cosmic rays, which converted that water into hydrogen trapped in the rock of the body. As Oumuamua approached the sun, heat released hydrogen, which acted as an unexpected ‘reactor’, changing its trajectory and increasing its speed.

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His colleague and co-author of the study published in natureDarrell Seligman of Cornell University defends Bergner’s thesis. “All these stupid ideas about hydrogen icebergs and other crazy things have popped up, while this is the simplest explanation,” the expert explained in a statement.

An opinion shared by Marco Micheli, an astronomer at the European Space Agency, who is “provided by this study”. Perhaps the simplest and most realistic explanation is a physical one for the properties of this object“.

In stark contrast to the theory of an eminent Harvard astrophysicist, Avi Loebwhich in 2021 published a book entitled Alien: The first sign of intelligent life outside Earth. Loeb again criticized this new advanced theory in the journal Nature, telling AFP: “Demonstrating that a comet has no tail is like saying an elephant is a zebra without stripes.”.

A major observatory in Chile

In 2019, the astronomer community discovered another body that came from outside the solar system, Comet 2I/Borisov, which had a long tail. Bergner replies that Oumuamua did not have a tail because it was so small, much smaller than 2I/Borisov.

An observatory being built at Cerro Pashon, in northern Chile (Vera C. Rubin Observatory), could be crucial in unraveling this mystery. When it starts scanning the sky, around 2025, this observatory should be able to spot other small comets. Bergner says that if those comets emit hydrogen, without having a tail, that would confirm the new theory. “We will never know for sure what ‘Oumuamua is: we lost that opportunity,” accepts this scientist. “But for now we have a convincing explanation, without being extraterrestrial,” he says.

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