In late October, 2017, NASA said the recently discovered interstellar visitor appeared "to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy".
Scientists with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics published a new study discussing the origins of such an object, including the possibility that it might be a "lightsail of artificial origin, designed for interstellar travel".
At the time, scientists described the object as "less than a quarter-mile in diameter" with a red surface, and astronomers said that it was moving "remarkably fast".
A new paper from the Harvard scientists Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb suggests that quirks in Oumuamua's rotation and speed could be the result of solar-powered movement.
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"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", wrote the paper's authors, suggesting that the object could be propelled by solar radiation.
But Alan Jackson, a fellow at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, told CNN the study was "distinctly lacking in evidence, never mind extraordinary evidence" and that the spectral data suggested the object was an asteroid or comet.
'Oumuamua is the first object ever seen in our solar system that is known to have originated elsewhere. "But one should not blindly accept this clever hypothesis when there is also a mundane (and a priori more likely) explanation for Oumuamua - namely that it's a comet or asteroid from afar".
Of course, the pair aren't claiming that Oumuamua's definitely of alien origin.
"Any functional spacecraft would nearly certainly retract its solar sail once in interstellar space to prevent damage", Mr Jackson said.
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However, defeat for the visitors ended their chances of progressing from the group. "It's not good, but we are not complaining".
Mr Loeb called his findings "purely scientific and evidence-based" and added: "I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".
Oumuamua has left the solar system and is no longer visible, the news outlet noted.
When the object was first spotted scientists believed it might have been travelling through space for hundreds of millions of years.
Theoretical physicist Avi Loeb Loeb told Universe Today: "Oumuamua could be an active piece of alien technology that came to explore our solar system, the same way we hope to explore Alpha Centauri using Starshot and similar technologies".
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