Soon, astronomers are about to use one of the biggest telescopes in the world in order to find out more about a mysterious object that is rushing through the solar system for signs of possible alien technology.
This telescope will be based in West Verginia and it will listen radio signals being broadcast from a cigar-shaped body that was spotted in the solar system for the first time in October. The body appeared from interstellar space and as it swept past the sun, it reached a speed of 196,000 mph.
The researchers from the Breakthrough Listen project that are searching for evidence of alien civilization all the time, have said that this telescope will monitor the object called Oumuamua and and it will start next Wednesday. The first phase is expected to last maybe ten hours and there will be four radio transmission bands that will be tuned in.
“Most likely it is of natural origin, but because it is so peculiar, we would like to check if it has any sign of artificial origin, such as radio emissions,” said the professor of astronomy at Harvard University Avi Loeb.
“If we do detect a signal that appears artificial in origin, we’ll know immediately.”
This strange body was spotted for the first time from the researches on the Pan-Starrs telescope that is used by the University of Hawai for scanning the heavens for killer asteroids. It was picked up when it swept past Earth at 85 times the distance to the moon.
Early observations of this object has shown that it is somewhere near 400m long and only one tenth as wide. Loeb said: “It’s curious that the first object we see from outside the solar system looks like that.”
This object at the moment is twice as far from Earth as the sun, but still, the new telescope called the Green bank could detect transmissions as weak as those that are produced my a mobile phone. Of course, Loeb mentioned that he does not necessarily expect Green bank to detect an alien transmission, but in any case – it is worth checking out.
“The chances that we’ll hear something are very small, but if we do, we will report it immediately and then try to interpret it,” Loeb said. “It would be prudent just to check and look for signals. Even if we find an artefact that was left over and there are no signs of life on it, that would be the greatest thrill I can imagine having in my lifetime. It’s really one of the fundamental questions in science, perhaps the most fundamental: are we alone?”
Astronomers didn’t yet put a lot of thought into how exactly this kind of elongated objects can be created in the asteroid belts, but after studying Oumuamua patiently, they really hope to learn more on topic and also find out if there are more of this weird object flowing around.
“If it’s of natural origin, there should be many more of them,” Loeb said.
Researchers hope that the Green Bank telescope could also shed light on whether the object is shrouded in a comet-like cloud of gas and also to reveal if it carrying water and ice through the solar system.