'Oumuamua, the interstellar object that visited the Solar System, has been shrouded in mystery since it was detected in October 2017.
A prominent scientist, however, thinks that the cigar-shaped space rock could be an alien spacecraft that broke down during its interstellar journey.
Light Sail Or Alien Spacecraft
In a study published in The Astrophysical Journal in November, Avi Loeb, the Frank B. Baird Jr., a professor of science at Harvard University, and colleagues proposed two ideas about the strange object.
They said it could either be a light sail ejected from advanced technological equipment made by an intelligent alien civilization, or an alien probe whose mission was to check out the Solar System.
"It's possible that, once a civilization reaches a certain maturity technologically, that this is a very common technological solution," Loeb said.
SETI Scientists Did Not Detect Alien Signals
In December, SETI scientists looked for signals that could strengthen the idea 'Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. Gerry Harp and colleagues tried to listen to radio signals that could serve as evidence the interstellar object is not just a rock.
Harp and colleagues, however, were not able to detect the signal that could be indicative of the use of some form of alien technology.
Loeb Justifies Claim 'Oumuamua Is An Alien Probe
While radio scans of the object have shown it was not sending out alien signals, Loeb said this does not rule out the object is an alien probe.
In an interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, the Israeli-American said the fact there were no radio signals detected from 'Oumuamua could simply mean it had broken down.
"We have no way of knowing whether it's active technology or a spaceship that is no longer operative and is continuing to float in space," Loeb said.
Loeb also thinks the object's cigar-like shape is very unusual for an asteroid, and 'Oumuamua does not have the classic tail that characterizes comets.