Ever since it was first spotted in 2017, the interstellar asteroid known as Oumuamua, meaning "scout" or "messenger" in Hawaiian, has garnered much interest among astronomers and the public. Its origins, composition and shape have grabbed peoples' imaginations. Now a forthcoming study from Harvard University researchers make the bold claim that the object is actually an alien spacecraft — or a "light sail" of alien origin — tumbling away from Earth.
The big picture: This study is not the first, nor is it likely the last time that an alien-origin hypothesis has been raised about Oumuamua. However, in science, the most outlandish claims are not usually the most likely, and they require rigorous examination by outside researchers before they can be accepted.