Scientists Led by Stephen Hawking Believe Interstellar Object Visiting Us Could be Alien Spacecraft

Stephen Hawking and a team of leading scientists are using scanners to assess if the recently discovered interstellar object contains signs of extra-terrestrial activity.
Jessica Miley

Stephen Hawking believes an interstellar object may be an alien spaceship. World-renowned scientist Hawking is among a "team of experts who are using scanners to investigate the object dubbed "Oumuamua” which was first spotted in October. The investigative team called ‘Breakthrough Listen’ are using the world's largest maneuverable radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia, to observe and track the object. The scientists will use scanners to listen for particular electromagnetic signals which are not produced in nature. If these signals are detected it could mean there is extraterrestrial involvement.

The project released a statement saying: “"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 artifact."

"...Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that Oumuamua could be an artifact."

The object is long and thin in shape roughly 400m long, 80m wide and traveling at 315,000km/h. It is the shape and speed of the unknown object that has also fuelled the notion that the object has unnatural origins. The statement from Breakthrough Listen goes further saying: "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."

Scientists scanning asteroid for unnatural signals

The team started their scanning on Wednesday, December 13 at 3:00 pm ET, the first phase of observation lasted 10 hours.


“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,” said Listen’s Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center. “Whether this object turns out to be artificial or natural, it’s a great target for Listen.” Oumuamua is currently twice as far away from us as the sun. Scientists predict it will pass Jupiter sometime next year. It is believed to be the first object discovered in the solar system that may have originated from another part of the galaxy. Its unusual shape and speed set the astronomical community alight when it was first discovered by the Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii in October 2017. The object is speeding through space at 315,000km/h and doesn’t appear to be gravitationally bound but will track a course back out of the solar system.

Breakthrough Listen continues to search for alien life

Breakthrough Listen is funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner as just one component of the entrepreneur and physicist's breakthrough initiatives project. Breakthrough Listen is based at the Berkeley SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. It describes itself as a “scientific program in search for evidence of technological life in the Universe. It aims to survey one million nearby stars, the entire galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies at a wide range of radio and optical bands.”