By Tim Binnall
A new study of the mysterious interstellar object known as 'Oumuamua' has seemingly squelched the theory that the interloper is alien in nature. Discovered back in the autumn of 2017, the oddity captured the imagination of scientists and the public as it was the first time that astronomers had spotted an object that had entered our solar system from somewhere else. As one can imagine, the 'visitor' sparked speculation that perhaps the Oumuamua is some kind of evidence for extraterrestrials.
Remarkably, this conjecture was not limited to the world of UFO enthusiasts and alien aficionados. Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb sparked headlines last November when he postulated that Oumuamua might have been some kind of ET probe that was powered by a solar light sail. While his theory was dismissed as "wild speculation" by the scientist who discovered it, Loeb doubled down on his hypothesis at the start of this year, declaring that "I don't care what people say."
Be that as it may, a new examination of data from observations of Oumuamua appears to strike a serious blow to the theory that it is an alien craft. In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers concluded that they had "found no compelling evidence to favor an alien explanation." In fact, they largely lambasted the idea, declaring that "some arguments in favor of this hypothesis are simply wrong."
Specifically, they noted that so-called anomalies surrounding the object often cited by alien theory advocates, such as its movement, shape, and trajectory, could all be naturally explained. While, of course, they could not outright eliminate the possibility, they stressed that "assertions that Oumuamua may be artificial are not justified when the wide body of current knowledge about Solar System minor bodies and planetary formation is considered."
Since Oumuamua is currently speeding its way out of our solar system, scientists are left with only the data from their initial observations, which likely means that the debate over the possibility that it was alien may never fully be satisfied. That said, it is expected that additional interstellar objects will be spotted in the not-too-distant future, which will allow for astronomers to compare the interlopers to see if Oumuamua was truly unique or just a simple space rock that happened to stumble its way into history.