Some astronomers and X-Files fans wanted to believe that a cigar-shaped space rock named ‘Oumuamua was a probe from an advanced alien civilization after it was detected in our Solar System in October 2017. While that “exotic scenario,” to quote a pair of astronomers, would change the world forever, research published Wednesday offers a sense of this mystery object’s size — and chips away at that alien theory.
The new research notes that ‘Oumuamua (“visitor from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian) was too small to be seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope when it was trained on the object in November 2017. This finding lends credence to the theory that the first interstellar object we’ve observed in our solar system is more like a comet than an alien probe. The study was coauthored by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was published in The Astronomical Journal.