The first-known interstellar asteroid was witnessed by the astronomers on 19th October 2017, as soon as it entered into our Solar System – a cigar-shaped object which was believed to be an alien spaceship as it was scanned for radio signals after its shape.
Scientists have recruited many telescopes which include the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope – the Green Bank Telescope which listens to the object across four radio frequency bands which span one to 12 GHz and accumulates more than 90TB data in just 2 hours. In 2015, The Seti project Breakthrough Listen was launched by Russian digital tech mogul Yuri Milner and used a telescope to listen in on the body in West Virginia.
The celestial body is named as Oumuamua– messenger from afar arriving first – by the astronomers from the University of Hawaii in October when it passed Earth at approx 85 times the distance from the moon. It’s strange shape, and relatively high speed (26.3 km/s) points at something which is perhaps not natural. The asteroid was scanned across the four radio bands, each of which corresponds to four radio receivers.
Director of Berkeley Seti Research Center, Andrew Siemion told Gizmodo, ‘It is great to see data pouring in from observations of this novel and interesting source. Our team is excited to see what additional observations and analyses will reveal.’ An astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Avi Loebtold Gizmodo that this is a fishing expedition to which Jason Wright, Penn State astronomer agreed, but he doesn’t think that the asteroid ‘Oumuamua’ was the most excellent candidate to start with.
Wright added, “This is the first interstellar asteroid we know, and we expect to find much more in the future.” The Breakthrough Listen is aiming to survey a million nearby stars and about 100 nearby galaxies looking for the signals by the aliens.