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Stephen Hawking leading team listening for signals from alien object today

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
12/13/2017 (4 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Scientists want to listen to mysterious visitor from outside solar system.

A mysterious object passing through our solar system will be studied today to determine if it is transmitting a message. A team of scientists are using a radio telescope to find out if the asteroid 'Oumuamua' is actually a space probe and is transmitting a message. 

Oumuamua is thought to be an asteroid, but scientists are scrutinizing it, just in case it's something more.

Oumuamua is thought to be an asteroid, but scientists are scrutinizing it, just in case it's something more.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
12/13/2017 (4 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Oumuamua, Stephan Hawking, asteroid, visitor, listen, signals, radio, alien


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A team of scientists lead by professor Stephen Hawking are listening to a mysterious object dubbed 'Oumuamua' today. They are checking to see if the object might be an alien probe transmitting a message to Earth, or somewhere else.

Oumuamua is a Hawiian name, which means scout. It was detected by scientists in Hawaii in October after it passed by the Sun. There are two key features that make this object noteworthy. First, the object was found to be shaped like a cigar, about 100 feet wide and 600 feet long. Such objects don't seem to occur naturally in space, or at least not very often. Second, its trajectory shows it came from outside the solar system, and is now on its way out of the solar system, back into interstellar space. Until now, no object has ever been detected coming from outside our solar system. 

 As often happens with any new phenomenon in space, a few people have suggested Oumuamua  might not be an asteroid, but a space probe, sent by curious aliens, scouting the solar system for signs of intelligent life. 

To rule out this possibility, scientists are studying the object closely. So far, they have found that the object is colored dark red, which is similar to most objects from the edge of our solar system. This suggests Oumuamua is a typical asteroid, probably ejected from another solar system.  

But scientists still cannot explain its cigar shape very well, except to say it is unusual, but not impossible. 

The trajectory of Oumuamua reveals it is from interstellar space. Astronomers say they cannot tell which star system it came from.

The trajectory of Oumuamua reveals it is from interstellar space. Astronomers say they cannot tell which star system it came from.


Today, a team of scientists lead by Stephen Hawking will use the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia to listen to the object for about ten hours. If the object gives off so much as a cell phone signal, it will be detected. It will serve as evidence that the object is of alien origin. However, if no signal is detected, then it will suggest the object is merely a curious rock. 

Chances are, it is just a rock. And even if it is an alien probe, it could be defunct or switched off. 

Curiously, legendary sci fi writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote a novel which began with the discovery of a similar object, which was dubbed "Rama" in Rendezvous With Rama. In the story, the object is an unmanned alien spacecraft with a mysterious mission. 

While Oumuamua will probably disappoint alien enthusiasts, the launch of the James Webb Space in spring of 2019 may finally bring the answers humanity seeks. The telescope will be sensitive enough to sample the light passing through the atmospheres of distant planets, and the data will reveal the presence of any telltale markers of life. We could have these answers within the next two years or so. 

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