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New details have emerged about Oumuamua - the first known visitor to our solar system from another star that swung by Earth in October.
Scientists have said that the alien object appears to be 'wrapped in an a layer of organic insulation' and the strangeness of this has lead some to believe it could be a sign of extraterrestrial life.
Though it's likely it is an icy body, as was expected, researchers believe it is wrapped in an organic coat that shields the frozen water inside from being hit by the sun, according to new research.
"In the end this was a nice result because we've expected all along that the majority of objects that would visit our solar system would be icy in nature," Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen's University Belfast and the lead author of one of two major new studies into Oumuamua told the Independent.
"It has been a puzzle that this thing looked like a big lump of rock.
"Our study says that this object could well be icy in nature but we didn't detect that ice due to the fact it's been baked by energetic radiation between the stars for hundreds of millions of years, or even billions of years."
The coat was examined by using spectroscopy, which scientists can use to work out what the object might be composed of.
"What we didn't see is the signatures of the rocks you'd usually find on Earth, or you might find on the inner asteroid belt surrounding our sun.
An artist's impression of how the asteroid looks. Credit: NASA
"Looking at it we realised it had been predicted that icier objects exposed to interstellar space should naturally form a thick crust around themselves.
"When we crunched the numbers we found that this crust should insulate the interior of the object so that if there were any ices inside it, it wouldn't change the form."
Its comes after the announcement that Breakthrough Listen - a project led by Professor Hawking - is trying to decipher whether the object is an alien probe or a previously unseen natural phenomenon.
In a statement last week, 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.
"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."
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