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University of Maryland: Oumuamua was not an alien spacecraft

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Could 'Oumuamua be an extra-terrestrial solar sail?
Artist’s impression of interstellar asteroid/comet, Oumuamua /ESO, M. Kornmesser

No, but why was there a general willingness to believe that it was an alien spacecraft anyway?

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – On October 19, 2017, astronomers discovered the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system. Early reports of the odd characteristics of “‘Oumuamua” led to speculation that the object might be an alien spacecraft. Now a new analysis by an international team of astronomers co-led by, University of Maryland Associate Research Scientist Matthew Knight, strongly indicates that its origin is purely natural.

When first spotted by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 telescope located at the University of Hawaii’s Haleakala Observatory, the object defied easy description, simultaneously displaying characteristics of both a comet and an asteroid. Astronomers formally named the object 1I/2017 U1 and with a common name of ‘Oumuamua, which roughly translates to “scout” in Hawaiian.

Researchers from UMD and around the world immediately raced to collect as much data as possible in the few weeks they had to observe the strange visitor before ‘Oumuamua traveled beyond the reach of Earth’s telescopes. The new findings by Knight and colleagues from some 13 institutions and five countries are reported in the July 1, 2019, issue of the journal Nature Astronomy.

“We have never seen anything like ‘Oumuamua in our solar system. It’s really a mystery still,” Knight said. “But our preference is to stick with analogs we know, unless or until we find something unique. The alien spacecraft hypothesis is a fun idea, but our analysis suggests there is a whole host of natural phenomena that could explain it.”

Matthew Wright, “‘Oumuamua Interstellar Object Was Not an Alien Spacecraft” at UMD Right Now

“Stick with analogs we know, you advise”? Yes, good idea. It used to be the usual approach among scientists. So why was it suddenly suspended? We are still wondering. Or maybe we know but no one wants to discuss it. See Tales of an invented god

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See also: Tales of Oumuamua: Why are we still talking about the Oumuamua alien sighting panic? Oumuamua alien sighting panic?

What? Oumuamua Was Just A Comet? After All The ET Hype?

Astronomer: We’re too dumb to think space object Oumuamua was an extraterrestrial lightsail.Hmmm. In the real world, when you are an only child so far as you know, it is hard to compare yourself to your siblings. Few readily accept criticism for failure to measure up to the standards of imaginary beings.

Conventional Non-ET Explanations For Oumuamua

Astronomers: Solar System Object In Transit, Oumuamua, Might Be A “Light Sail Of Extra-Terrestrial Origin”

Why Some Scientists Saw Asteroid Oumuamua As ET

Why can top scientists get away with extraordinary claims?

Did Interstellar Object Oumuamua Normalize Space Aliens As Science In 2018?

and

Astronomers: Solar system object in transit, Oumuamua, might be a “light sail of extra-terrestrial origin”

2 Replies to “University of Maryland: Oumuamua was not an alien spacecraft

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    “We have never seen anything like ‘Oumuamua in our solar system. It’s really a mystery still,” Knight said. “But our preference is to stick with analogs we know, unless or until we find something unique.”
    If we have “never seen anything like” it, then it is, by definition, “unique”. He also uses the odd qualifier “in our solar system”, which implies that we HAVE seen things like it someplace else.
    I think that it’s just as reasonable to instead say that it COULD be an artificial construction and it COULD be doing things we don’t understand and can’t detect. Pigeon-holing it as if it were a thing we DO understand doesn’t advance understanding.

  2. 2
    gpuccio says:

    Vmahuna:

    I agree with you.

    “It’s really a mystery still” is a beautiful statement. Scientists should be able to say that more often. There are a lot of mysteries out there, many of them in biology, but nobody seems ready to admit that.

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