The mysterious entity, which has been named “Oumuamua”, was at first believed to be a comet or an asteroid – the first of which to enter our solar system from interstellar space.
But on closer inspection of the ‘comet’, scientists, including a group backed by Stephen Hawking, claimed there was something odd about it and are now examining whether it is an alien space ship.
One researcher, Dr Jason Wright of Penn State University is convinced the object is an extra-terrestrial craft, and says the way the object moves suggests its engine has broke.
Oumuamua is currently tumbling through space and the quarter of a mile long object is travelling at a whopping 196,000mph.
Comet investigated by Stephen Hawking is ‘ALIEN probe with broken engines’
In his blog, Dr Wright writes: “Such derelict craft would, if they are not travelling so fast that they escape the Galaxy, eventually ‘thermalise’ with the stars and end up drifting around like any other interstellar comet or asteroid.
“In fact, since they (presumably) no longer have attitude control, one would expect that they would eventually begin to tumble, and if they are very rigid that tumbling might distinguish them from ordinary interstellar asteroids… and in fact, just because their propulsion is broken doesn’t mean that their radio transmitters would be broken.”
The associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics adds that the object could be a ‘Von Neumann probe’ – a hypothetical craft that visits other star systems.
He continues: “Such a discovery would imply that there are lots of these things in the solar system at any given moment (even if they are deliberately targeting the Sun, they are hard to spot and we’ll miss most of them), and so lots of opportunities to study them.”
The ‘asteroid’ was spotted in November
A £75million programme that searches for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth called Breakthrough Listen, led by Stephen Hawking, is attempting to detect evidence of alien technology transmitting from the object.
Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who backs Breakthrough Listen, said: “Whether it’s artificial or not, we will definitely know more about this object.”
Andrew Siemion, research centre director at the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) – which works alongside Breakthrough Listen – said it would begin a 10-hour observation tomorrow for specific signs of alien technology.
Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner of Breakthrough Listen
It will search on the electromagnetic spectrum using the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia.
Dr Siemion said: “It’s like a radio station you tune into with your car stereo.
Some speculate it could be an alien spaceship
“Nature doesn’t broadcast on a very specific frequency, its smears it out across colour and time.
“Technology behaves differently. It can compress electromagnetic energy and so we look for those specific signs and for repeating patterns which nature doesn’t tend to do. We look for structure.”