Oumuamua is weird but isn't an alien ship, study finds

CNET | 7/1/2019 | Eric Mack
oxboy (Posted by) Level 4
Click For Photo: https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/DGKMZe-gs59R6-Y4ccMfmAI_R5U=/756x567/2018/11/07/42f19877-3682-4384-841e-c3900d7d27d0/621-interstellar-asteroid.jpg

This artist's impression shows Oumuamua.

The bizarre cosmic object Oumuamua has fueled an ongoing science fight over whether the interstellar interloper is just an odd oblong space rock -- or an alien craft. The latest jab takes some of the solar wind out of the idea that Oumuamua is a space sail.

Oumuamua - Year - Harvard - Physicist - Avi

First spotted in 2017, Oumuamua went fully viral a year later when Harvard physicist Avi Loeb suggested it behaves like an artificial solar sail. The notion has been a controversial one among scientists. A new analysis, funded in part by NASA, throws perhaps the most serious shade yet at Loeb and others pushing the Oumuamua-as-alien-probe thesis.

"We have never seen anything like Oumuamua in our solar system. This thing is weird and admittedly hard to explain," University of Maryland research scientist Matthew Knight said Monday in a statement. "The alien spacecraft hypothesis is a fun idea, but our analysis suggests there is a whole host of natural phenomena that could explain it."

Knight - Leaders - Team - Findings - Monday

Knight is one of the leaders of the team that reported its findings in Monday's issue of Nature Astronomy.

Oumuamua may be just one of many 'interstellar visitors'

Loeb - Paper - November - Speculating - Oumuamua

Loeb co-authored his own paper released in November speculating that if Oumuamua were really a solar sail, it might explain its odd shape and acceleration on its way out of the solar system.

A solar sail is a type of spacecraft that uses solar radiation pressure for propulsion, just like the wind pushes a sailboat. The Planetary Society recently launched a small solar sail aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket, and Loeb chairs the advisory board for the Breakthrough Starshot initiative,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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