Astrophysics

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.

Scientists trace neutrino to source outside our galaxy

IceCube lab in Antarctica under the stars.
IceCube lab. Photo: Martin Wolf/IceCube/NSF

In a find that advances our understanding of fundamental particles in the universe, scientists announced Thursday they've detected a high-energy neutrino from outside our galaxy and, for the first-time, pinpointed its source.

Why it matters: The evidence, detailed in two new studies in the journal Science, further demonstrate the potential for multi-messenger astronomy — that is, astronomy that looks at the whole electromagnetic spectrum — to help scientists answer longstanding mysteries about high-energy physics.

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