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Astronomers to check interstellar object for signs of alien technology

Green Bank radio telescope (Jarek Tuszynski)One of the world’s largest radio telescopes is being used to check whether a mysterious object that is speeding through the Solar System has been created by aliens. Scientists on the Breakthrough Listen project, which searches for evidence of alien civilizations, will use the the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia to listen for radio signals being given off by the cigar-shaped object. Travelling at more than 300,000 km/h (200,000 mph) as it rounded the Sun, it is the first known object to arrive in our Solar System from interstellar space. The telescope will be turned towards the object as it speeds away and will pick up any faint signals. “Most likely it is of natural origin, but because it is so peculiar, we would like to check if it has any sign of artificial origin, such as radio emissions,” said Avi Loeb, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and an adviser to the Breakthrough Listen project.

Artist's impression of 'Oumuamua (ESO/nagualdesign)
The object, named 'Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word meaning “to reach out from afar”, or “messenger”, was first spotted on 19th October 2017 by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS telescope. The instrument, at Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii, is  used to look out for asteroids on a collision course with Earth. 'Oumuamua was picked up as it swept past Earth at 85 times the distance to the Moon.  


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