TECH
15/12/2017 12:07 GMT

We've Got Some Bad News About That Interstellar Space Rock

Not today folks.

Earlier this week the world got excited as scientists revealed they were tracking a mysterious space object that they suspected could host alien technology.

Alas, five days later, the news isn’t looking too promising as initial feedback from the cigar-shaped Oumuamua rock has not revealed anything of the sort.

A statement from the Breakthrough Listen project, who are monitoring the situation, said: “No evidence of artificial signals emanating from the object so far detected by the Green Bank Telescope, but monitoring and analysis continue.”

Ilustración del asteroide interestelar 'Oumuamua - ESO/M. Kornmesser

The interstellar asteroid was first spotted by researchers in Hawaii back in October as it flew past Earth at 85 times the distance to the moon, at an approximate speed of 196,000 miles per hour.

Seeing objects flying around in space is, as you can imagine, not unusual. But the team observed that not only was it the wrong shape for an asteroid (they are normally round) but it is was also moving ‘cleanly’ without emitting dust clouds usually expected.

Speculation began that this could be explained by the object being an alien spacecraft made of metal - a theory fueled by the fact it has almost certainly arrived from outside our solar system and is moving so fast it will eventually leave again.

So the Breakthrough Listen Project, funded by the internet billionaire Yuri Milner, decided to investigate further with the hope of finding the work of an intelligent civilisation.

Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center said: “Our team is excited to see what additional observations and analyses will reveal”.

Using the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia, which is so sensitive it could detect transmissions as weak as those produced by a mobile phone, they have been scanning for radio signals.

The initial block of observations (the first of a planned four blocks) ran from 3:45pm to 9:45pm ET on Wednesday, December 13.

During the two hour observation the instrument accumulated 90 TB of raw data, a large volume which means it is still being sifted through. Despite the analysis not being fully complete, the team said the evidence isn’t looking good. 

Breakthrough Listen is a scientific program in search for evidence of technological life in the Universe. 

It aims to survey one million nearby stars, the entire galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies at a wide range of radio and optical bands.