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“My motivation for writing the paper is to alert the community to pay a lot more attention to the next visitor,” he told me.
That calculation results in a lot of possibilities, but the range is much less than needed to explain the discovery of ‘Oumuamua. When you look at all the stars in the vicinity of the sun, they move relative to the sun, the sun moves relative to them, but only one in five hundred stars in that frame is moving as slow as ‘Oumuamua.
You would expect that most rocks would move roughly at the speed of the star they came from.
It is much more likely that it is being made by artificial means, by a technological civilization.
I should say, just as background, I do not view the possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for two reasons. And the second is that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could develop.
That’s what comets show: a cometary tail of evaporated gas.
We don’t see a cometary tail here, but, nevertheless, we see a deviation from the expected orbit. Once I realized that the object is moving differently than expected, then the question is what gives it the extra push.October 19, 2017, astronomers at the University of Hawaii spotted a strange object travelling through our solar system, which they later described as “a red and extremely elongated asteroid.” It was the first interstellar object to be detected within our solar system; the scientists named it ‘Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for a scout or messenger.The following October, Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, co-wrote a paper (with a Harvard postdoctoral fellow, Shmuel Bialy) that examined ‘Oumuamua’s “peculiar acceleration” and suggested that the object “may be a fully operational probe sent to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilization.” Loeb has long been interested in the search for extraterrestrial life, and he recently made further headlines by suggesting that we might communicate with the civilization that sent the probe.The only thing that came to my mind is that maybe the light from the sun, as it bounces off its surface, gives it an extra push.It’s just like a wind bouncing off a sail on a sailboat.We see the solar system and we can calculate at what rate it ejected rocks during its history.And if we assume all planetary systems around other stars are doing the same thing, we can figure out what the population of interstellar objects should be.It has a much more extreme geometry, and there is some other force pushing it.The question is, what’s providing this force, and that was the trigger for our paper.Your explanation of why ‘Oumuamua might be an interstellar probe may be hard for laypeople to understand.Why might this be the case, beyond the fact that lots of things are possible?