Earth hit by object which could prove life arrived here from outer space

Planet Earth has been hit by an ‘interstellar object’ which travelled here from another star system, two leading astronomers have claimed.

Harvard University stargazers think that a meteor which ploughed into our planet in 2014 may have come from outside the solar system.

After calculating the meteor’s trajectory before it hit Earth, Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb believe the rock has a ‘possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy’.

They said that millions of similar objects may have hit Earth over the aeons, backing up a theory called panspermia which suggests life is carried through the universe on asteroids which ‘seed’ planets by crashing into them.

‘Photographing or visiting these trapped objects would allow for learning about the conditions in other planetary systems, saving the need to send interstellar probes,’ the astronomers added.

In a previous paper, Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb suggested the elongated asteroid ‘Oumuamua might have an ‘artificial origin’.

‘‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation,’ they wrote.

MORE: Nasa shares picture of a ‘flying saucer from outer space that crash-landed on Earth’

Their research suggests several explanations for the formation of ‘Oumuamua, which is regarded as a ‘new class’ of space object.

It sped past Earth and looped around our sun at 196,000 mph and was about half a mile long. The object was so unusual that Nasa said it had ‘never seen a natural object with such extreme proportions in the solar system before’.

Initially, the fact ‘Oumuamua appeared to speed up led astronomers to suggest it was a comet. These icy objects accelerate due to a process called outgassing, in which the sun heats up a comet and causes it to release gases.

But in their paper, the Harvard stargazers ruled out the possibility it was an active comet.

They proposed that it was powered along by ‘solar radiation pressure’ produced by the sun, but went on to make more ‘exotic’ suggestions to explain its acceleration.

MORE: The cigar-shaped asteroid ‘Oumuamua could be an alien probe with broken engines, top astronomer suggests

The pair suggested it may have been a type of spaceship called a ‘light sail’ featuring a large and very thin sheet that is blown along through space by the light produced by stars.

When it travelled through the solar system, it was tumbling end-over-end, which could also mean it was a piece of space wreckage left behind by aliens.

‘Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that ‘Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological civilisation,’ the astronomers continued.

‘Lightsails with similar dimensions have been designed and constructed by our own civilization, including the IKAROS project and the Starshot Initiative

‘The lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars.’

They said alien civilisations may jettison used cargo ships, resulting in space debris that looks a lot like Asteroid ‘Oumuamua.

Some bacteria, plants and even hardy micro-animals called tardigrades are known to be capable of surviving in space.

Could the same process occur in reverse, bringing extraterrestrial bugs to Earth and possibly helping to seed life on the planet?

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