Back in the middle of October astronomers spied a very strange object that zipped past Earth on its way out of our solar system. The object is dubbed Oumuamua, which means “first messenger” in Hawaiian, and it has scientists around the world confused. The needle-like object is believed to be interstellar in origin and is now already halfway to Jupiter and rapidly exceeding the distance where it can be studied before it is gone forever.
There are several oddities about Oumuamua, one of them is that it never sprouted a comet-like tail. Scientists say that lack of a tail indicated that it isn’t a fresh an icy body. It also has a deep red color signaling that it was bombarded with cosmic-rays and might be an asteroid from another star.
The object is 800 meters long and 80 meters wide and spins every seven hours and 20 minutes. The strangest part of the object was that its shape and size resembles a collision minimizing form that has been favored by scientists for interstellar probes. The speed at which it rotates would also tear a loosely bound rubble pile apart.
That indicates that Oumuamua is either solid rock or metal. SETI is currently studying Oumuamua to try and determine if it is artificial. If the object is artificial, the SETI folks think that it might be transmitting or leaking radio waves. SETI has turned its radio telescopes on the object to see if any radio waves can be picked up.
Sadly, so far SETI’s study has turned up nothing. Another chance to listen for radio signals will come this Wednesday at 3 pm Eastern as the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope will aim at Oumuamua for ten hours of observation scanning the object across its entire rotation. The Green Bank radio telescope will be able to pick up any signals as strong as that of a normal cell phone coming from the object.
SOURCE: Scientific American