An artist's impression shows the profile in the form of Oumuamua cigarettes. (Provided: Southern European Observatory / M. Kronmesser)
The president of the department of astronomy at Harvard University has defended his controversial claim that an interstellar object that passed through our solar system could have been "of artificial origin."
- In October 2017, NASA said that the recently discovered visitor appeared "originated from outside the solar system"
- Two Harvard astronomers said it might have been a slight candle discarded, but his theory was dismissed by other scientists
- But Professor Loeb defended his work, saying that "science contains many examples of hypotheses that have not yet been confirmed by observations"
Professors Abraham Loeb and Shmuel Bialy suggested that the cigar-like object that was passing through the solar system by the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 could have been a light candle discarded from extraterrestrial origin, perhaps sent on purpose .
The theory was received with skepticism and was dismissed as "wild speculation" by Robert Weryk, the scientist who discovered the object, later called "Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word that means" a messenger from far reaching first " .
But in a broad interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Professor Loeb said he did not care what people say, and commented that "science is not like politics, it is not based on popularity surveys."
He said his article was written after the talks with his colleagues, who were "apprehensive of making their thoughts public".
"I do not understand. After all, the academic mandate is intended to give scientists the freedom to take risks without having to worry about their jobs," he said.
"Unfortunately, most of the scientists reach their possession and continue to tend to their image."
Although he acknowledged that he had not published the article without possession, he said that the search for extraterrestrial life was not a mere speculation.
"Science contains many examples of hypotheses that have not yet been confirmed by observations, because science advances on the basis of anomalies, based on phenomena that are not susceptible to conventional explanations.
"If you are not prepared to find exceptional things, you will not discover them. Of course, each argument must be based on evidence, but if the evidence points to an anomaly, we have to speak of an anomaly.
"Imagine if the cavemen had been shown with the smartphone you are using to record me. What would you have thought of this special rock?
"Imagine that" Oumuamua is the iPhone and we are diggers. "Imagine scientists who are considered visionaries of reason among the caverns looking at the device and saying," No, it's just a rock. A special rock, but a rock. Where do you claim claiming that it is not a rock? "
Oumuamua was detected on October 19 of last year when it was already leaving the solar system.
(Wikimedia Commons: nagualdesign; Tomruen)
Mixed theories about why Oumuamua accelerated
At the end of October 2017, NASA said that the recently discovered interstellar visitor appeared, "to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from another site of our galaxy ".
"This unusual object … is less than [400 metres] Diameter and is moving remarkably fast, "said NASA at that time.
"Astronomers are working urgently to point telescopes around the world and in space to this remarkable object.
"Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers can learn more about the origin and possibly the composition of the object."
Peculiarly, the object accelerated during its visit to the internal solar system, an inexplicable acceleration due to the gravity of the sun. Acceleration could have been caused by excess gas, such as a comet, where the heat of the sun causes acceleration. But Oumuamua's observations did not reveal a queue of quotes or gas emissions.
Professor Loeb and Professor Bialy published their article suggesting that it could be a bright candle among other theories, and stated that its acceleration was caused by a "boost to the pressure of solar radiation."
"If the pressure of the radiation is the accelerating force, then" Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, produced naturally, through a process still unknown in the [interstellar medium] or on proto-planetary disks, or artificial origin, "they said.
They said that it seemed to use solar radiation as a source of energy, and even if it was only a natural object, it was still unique.
However, Dr. Weryk said that the data collected during his investigation contradicts this theory and that he had concluded that the object was a comet.
"There is a top speed that can be traveled to be gravitated by the sun," he said.
"When we first saw this object, I traveled faster than that, so we know it is outside of our solar system. We have decided that it was a comet that had a little degassing that was not visible from the ground, because which did not seem to be a comet.
"[The Harvard researchers] He decided to focus on another aspect of this, which is an alien ship and that it has a solar-type candle material that is causing the non-gravitational trajectory. But we really believe that this is not true based on the data we have obtained. "
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