SETI & Technosignatures

On The Possibility Of An Artificial Origin For `Oumuamua

By Keith Cowing
October 28, 2021
Filed under
On The Possibility Of An Artificial Origin For `Oumuamua
Sky path of `Oumuamua, labeled by date, as seen from Earth. The relative size of each circle gives a sense of the changing distance of `Oumuamua along its apparent trajectory. Also shown are the direction of motion of the Sun in the Local Standard of Rest (purple, labeled “Solar apex”), Venus (green), Mars (red) Uranus (turquoise) and the opposite direction to the motion of the Sun (purple, labeled “Solar antapex”). `Oumuamua’s trajectory moved from the Local Standard of Rest to south of the ecliptic plane (marked by the thin yellow line) of the Solar System between September 2 and October 22, 2017. (Credit: JPL Horizons)

Science offers the privilege of following evidence, not prejudice. The first interstellar object discovered near Earth, Oumuamua, showed half a dozen anomalies relative to comets or asteroids in the Solar system.

All natural-origin interpretations of the Oumuamua anomalies contemplated objects of a type never-seen-before, such as: a porous cloud of dust particles, a tidal disruption fragment or exotic icebergs made of pure hydrogen or pure nitrogen. Each of these natural-origin models has major quantitative shortcomings, and so the possibility of an artificial origin for Oumuamua must be considered. The Galileo Project aims to collect new data that will identify the nature of Oumuamua-like objects in the coming years.

Abraham Loeb (Harvard)

Comments: 12 pages, 8 figures, solicited review paper for the journal Astrobiology
Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2110.15213 [physics.pop-ph] (or arXiv:2110.15213v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)
Submission history
From: Avi Loeb
[v1] Wed, 20 Oct 2021 09:56:28 UTC (924 KB)
Astrobiology, SETI,

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻