The interstellar object Oumuamua is almost certainly not an alien spaceship

NASA simulation of the object known as Oumuamua tumbling through space.
NASA simulation of the object known as Oumuamua tumbling through space. Credit: NASA

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.

Parker Solar Probe breaks record for traveling closest to the sun

A rocket launches Nasa's Parker Solar Probe. It appears as a streak of light in a dark and gold sky.
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe on August 12, 2018. Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

The Parker Solar Probe has broken the record for the closest a human-made object has ever come to the sun, passing the 16.55 million mile marker at 1:04 p.m., according to a release by NASA.

The backdrop: Later this evening, the probe is expected to also break the record for the fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the Sun — faster than 153,454 miles per hour. Both records had been held since 1976 by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft. “It’s a proud moment for the team," Project Manager Andy Driesman, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland told NASA, "though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins on Oct. 31.” The goal of the Parker Solar Probe is to shed insight on the inner workings of our closest star.

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