Astronomers will use one of the largest telescopes in the world to take a closer look at a mysterious object that speeds through the solar system and find out if this has signs of alien technology.
Cigar-Shaped Interstellar Visitor
Scientists with the Breakthrough Listen project, which aims to find evidence of alien civilizations, will use the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia to listen for radio signals that may be broadcasted by the cigar-shaped object called Oumuamua that was first spotted in the solar system in October.
Observations made by astronomers who gathered data about the space rock showed that the asteroid is an unusual object characterized by unusual properties. Although scientists have long predicted that an interstellar visitor would pass in this region of the universe, they were not expecting something like this.
Sent By An Intelligent Alien Civilization?
Some researchers now consider the idea that Oumuamua may have been sent by intelligent extraterrestrial beings.
"The more I study this object, the more unusual it appears, making me wonder whether it might be an artificially made probe which was sent by an alien civilization," said Harvard Astronomy professor Avi Loeb, who is also an adviser to the Breakthrough Listen project.
Finding Signs Of An Alien Origin
The asteroid is now twice the distance between our home planet and the sun from Earth. At this proximity, researchers said that the Green Bank telescope can detect the faintest frequencies.
The telescope takes less than a minute to detect something as faint as the radio waves from a cell phone, so astronomers are confident that they will hear if the interstellar rock is sending signals.
"Most likely it is of natural origin, but because it is so peculiar, we would like to check if it has any sign of artificial origin, such as radio emissions," said Loeb. "If we do detect a signal that appears artificial in origin, we'll know immediately."
Observations will begin Wednesday, and the first phase, which will tune in to four different radio transmission bands, is anticipated to last 10 hours.
"Even if no signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial technology is heard, Listen observations will cover portions of the radio spectrum in which the object has not yet been observed, and could provide important information about the possibility of water/ice, or the chemistry of a coma (gaseous envelope), neither of which have yet been identified," Breakthrough said in a statement.