Let’s be real, UFO culture can feel a little hokey. Those who believe there are aliens living among us are often thought of as being a little, shall we say, out of this world. But now, those who do believe in aliens may have a bit more backup: a pair of researchers at Harvard are saying a mysterious object that recently passed by earth may indeed be an alien spaceship.
In 2017, ‘Oumuamua — which means "a messenger that reaches out from the distant past" in Hawaiian — flew through our solar system. According to Space.com, it is the very first known interstellar body observed within our own solar system. Little is known about the object, though Matthew Holman, director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Space.com the object was likely made up of more ice than rock. That, he explained, is because bodies that form on the outer edges of the solar systems tend to be icy.
Or, according to Abraham Loeb, professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral scholar, at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it’s a spaceship.
"'Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization," the pair wrote in a newly published paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The researchers added that the object, which was traveling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an "artificial origin” and it may even just be a piece of space trash.
"Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a light sail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment," the authors added, further suggesting ‘Oumuamua was propelled by solar radiation.
And really, that’s not much of a stretch when you consider earthlings have made similar light-sails too.
"Light-sails with similar dimensions have been designed and constructed by our own civilization, including the IKAROS project and the Starshot Initiative,” the paper explained. “The light-sail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars."
But, you don’t have to worry about E.T. coming to get you just yet. The authors further noted that the object’s unusual trajectory likely means it was no longer operational, and, really, it may not even be a spaceship at all. Still, it’s fun to dream.
"It is exciting to live at a time when we have the scientific technology to search for evidence of alien civilizations," Loeb wrote in an email to CNN. "The evidence about ‘Oumuamua is not conclusive but interesting. I will be truly excited once we have conclusive evidence."