Space, the final frontier may seem to be a vast empty void but that may just be a perception driven but how little we know. In October the modern world had its first encounter with an object from interstellar space and it was not what we expected.
Discovered by the Robert Weryk using the Pan-STARRS observatory (University of Hawaii) Asteroid 1I/2017 U1 is one very interesting interstellar visitor and it attracted so much attention that it was given another name ‘Oumuamau’, pronounced oʊˈmuːəˈmuːə which is a Hawaiian term meaning ‘scout or messenger sent from afar’.
Oumuamau is unlike any asteroid we have ever seen before. It’s dimensions, 400 meters by 40 meters, are decidedly unlike any asteroid ever observed, most of which tend to look like great balls of rock and ice hurtling through space. The cigar shaped object seemed to resemble what could only be described as one hell of a kick ass alien space ship. Upon closer inspection the mystery only deepened. Oumuamau also lacks a tail, a dust cloud trailing behind is a very common characteristic of asteroids.
Oumuamau wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of the X-Files, but with it travelling away from us at 300,000kph it isn’t going to wait around for Mulder and Scully to poke around and see if anyone is inside. Instead scientist led by Stephen Hawkins and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, through his Breakthrough List project, are using the Green Bank Radio telescope to listen for electromagnetic noise in an attempt to better understand this unusual visitor.
At the very least we have managed to capture a glimpse of our first rocky interstellar visitor, but could we also have an alien scout craft on our hands? Will scientists hear alien rock and roll playing on dashboard of this interstellar hot rod if they listen hard enough? Only time will tell, all we know for sure is that the more we look at Oumuamau the more interesting it gets, so stay tuned.