Found over Hawaii, an oblong object that entered our solar system will be tested for radio signals.
In October, researchers using the Pan-Starrs telescope in Hawaii saw a mysterious, unknown object travel past the earth, and now they’re using one of the world’s most powerful telescopes and radio to test the oblong object for alien life.
PBS reported that the fast-moving, rocky asteroid was our solar system’s first known “alien” encounter. Scientists named the object “Oumuamua,” which means “a messenger from the past,” in Hawaiian.
The object is said to have an unusual oblong shape — like a cigar or baseball bat — with a reddish hue that scientists noted could be from metallic and carbon-rich matter, aka some of the essential life ingredients. Astronomers believe it came, more or less, from the direction of Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. The cycle of the asteroid’s dimming and brightening suggests the asteroid could be anywhere from 590 feet to a quarter mile long and around 130 feet wide.
The Breakthrough Listen project, a program that searches for life beyond Earth, will probe the asteroid using the West Virginia-based Green Bank telescope. They’ll use radio signals to observe four radio transmission bands over 10 hours.
“The chances that we’ll hear something are very small, but if we do, we will report it immediately and then try to interpret it,” Avi Loeb, professor of astronomy at Harvard and adviser to the Breakthrough Listen project told the Guardian. “It would be prudent just to check and look for signals. Even if we find an artifact that was left over and there are no signs of life on it, that would be the greatest thrill I can imagine having in my lifetime. It’s really one of the fundamental questions in science, perhaps the most fundamental: are we alone?”