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SETI search of 'Oumuamua comes up empty

By T.K. Randall
December 8, 2018 · Comment icon 21 comments

Is 'Oumuamua sending out any signals ? Image Credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser
SETI has been attempting to determine if the first known interstellar visitor is under intelligent alien control.
The 400-meter-long object, which flew past our planet back in October 2017, became the focus of much debate and intrigue after it was found to have come from a distant solar system.

Since then, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has been keen to turn its attentions towards the object in the hope of finding evidence of intelligent alien life.

Back in December of last year, it used the Allen Telescope Array - a system of 42 radio dishes in California - to listen out for any extraterrestrial signals that may be coming from 'Oumuamua.

Sadly though, according to a newly published report, the search failed to find anything.
"We were looking for a signal that would prove that this object incorporates some technology - that it was of artificial origin," said lead author Gary Harp.

"We didn't find any such emissions, despite a quite sensitive search. While our observations don't conclusively rule out a non-natural origin for 'Oumuamua, they constitute important data in accessing its likely makeup."

At around the same time, the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project also attempted to find evidence of alien signals from 'Oumuamua using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

Unfortunately it, too, failed to pick up any signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

As things stand, it is looking unlikely that the object is anything more than a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Source: | Comments (21)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by micky 32 5 years ago
But what was the main reason people thought it was artificial in the first place? A tumbling piece of rock.
Comment icon #13 Posted by L.A.T.1961 5 years ago
It is an unusual shape, with a length to width ratio of maybe 10/1. There are no other asteroids, that have been observed, to have similar dimensions. Creating this shape by natural means is not impossible but the odds are lower than for a typical lump of space rock. It's speed has changed by more than can be explained by gravity acting alone. It's flight path through our solar system is unusually good for observing the inner planets and the chances of this path being random is statistically quite low for an intergalactic wanderer based on present assumptions.  None of the above points are ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by bison 5 years ago
The object's change in speed and course seem the most significant facts. Efforts to explain these have been unconvincing. Comet-like outgassing was thought the most reasonable explanation, until it was realized that the necessary amount of thrust would very probably have markedly changed  the rotation rate of Oumuamua. The object was under observation; this did not occur. Absent any workable natural explanation, and given the object's odd, extremely elongated shape, and unexpectedly bright color, the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence isn't such an unreasonable proposition.    ... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 5 years ago
@bison         bison, because an explanation is lacking, does not necessarily mean there isn't one. Hence, assuming an explanation because one is lacking is a little iffy. And, saying "isn't such an unreasonable proposition" on your cited evidence is dubious without looking at other evidences, such as, ET's traversing the galaxy in a space ship that looks like an asteroid, and at turtle speed to boot.
Comment icon #16 Posted by bison 5 years ago
I'm  not assuming that ETs are responsible, only considering a possibility that many seem all too ready to dismiss.  Even if Oumuamua were an artificial device, that doesn't necessarily mean that it contains any living beings. It could be some sort of automated probe. As to what Oumuamua 'looks like' we have very limited information. It was never more than a speck of light to out best instruments. That made it possible to track variations in light output, hence form an idea of its shape and period of rotation. They also looked for infrared radiation, the lack of which indicated it was qui... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Dejarma 5 years ago
why would anyone even consider the possibility Oumuamua could be intelligently designed baffles me 
Comment icon #18 Posted by bison 5 years ago
But what is there, that we actually know about Oumuamua, that makes an artificial explanation seem untenable? The pictures of the object as rough and rocky are merely artists' interpretations, based on the assumption that it is a natural object.  
Comment icon #19 Posted by Dejarma 5 years ago
Well yeah, that's my point= why suggest it may not be a natural/ normal object? Where's the reasoning for that? Though I must admit not thorough but I've searched Google & can't find anyone actually involved with SETI etc saying there are anomalies- it all seems to be just what the media is telling us.... Please correct me if I'm wrong Plus= reading the article in the OP we're told: So time, effort & no doubt money spent using this expensive equipment to see if a rock has intelligence of some deion!? Really!?
Comment icon #20 Posted by bison 5 years ago
The reasons for thinking that Oumuamua might be an extraterrestrial spacecraft have been mentioned in this thread. Both the Breakthrough Listen Project and the SETI Institute made serious searches of the object Oumuamua, on the chance that it was an extraterrestrial spacecraft, and was emitting detectable, intelligent radio waves. They obviously thought the scientific grounds for doing so were sound, or they wouldn't have made the searches. The two links below, directly from those two organizations, confirm that this took place. https://www.set... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Hawken 5 years ago
I think that Picard just flushed out the captains log while passing Uranus.

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