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Oumuamua, the cigar-shaped asteroid that'll be swinging by the Earth over the next few months, is going to be investigated for signs of alien life by none other than clever-person-in-chief Stephen Hawking.
The Express reports that a scientific body - named Breakthrough Listen - led by Professor Hawking is trying to decipher whether the object is an alien probe or a previously unseen natural phenomenon.
In a statement, the $100m (£75m) Seti project Breakthrough Listen said: "Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimise friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust.
Credit: PA Images
"While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that Oumuamua could be an artefact."
Professor of astrophysics at Harvard University Avi Loeb seemed even more enthusiastic about the idea of extraterrestrial life being involved, saying: "Perhaps the aliens have a mothership that travels fast and releases baby spacecrafts that freely fall into planetary system on a reconnaissance mission.
"If this object is natural in origin, there should be many more like it in the solar system... and even if most of them are natural, perhaps one of them will be found to be of artificial origin, some space device or junk from an alien civilisation.
#Oumuamua could be an alien spacecraft... or is it just a lump of rock? New radio search aims to find out.
- TooManySecrets (@darnstadium) December 13, 2017
With our stupid luck #Oumuamua actually is an alien spacecraft and when we make First Contact, we'll have to send out President Trump as our representative.
- The Miracle of Seannukah (@TheSeanDavid) December 13, 2017
If 'Oumuamua turns out to be rotating quickly on its central axis, I say nuke the tholins out of it.
- Andrew Paul Wood:unamused: (@AndrewPaulWood) November 21, 2017
"The more I study this object, the more unusual it appears, making me wonder whether it might be an artificially made probe which was sent by an alien civilisation."
The object's official name is A/2017 UI and it was spotted by the Pan-Starrs project at the University of Hawaii in October.
It is spinning on its axis every seven hours and is expected to zip past Jupiter next year, meaning researchers want to examine it before it flies out of reach of telescopes.
Lead scientist Dr Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley Seti Research Centre in California, said: "Oumuamua's presence within our solar system affords Breakthrough Listen an opportunity to reach unprecedented sensitivities to possible artificial transmitters and demonstrate our ability to track nearby, fast-moving objects.
They will listen for 10 hours to radio frequencies as of 8pm tonight.
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