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SETI probes mysterious Oumuamua interstellar object for radio signals



Normally SETI people use their equipment to search the universe for radio signals that may suggest we are not alone in the universe. SETI has turned to a different task recently, and that activity consisted of scanning the interstellar object called Oumuamua and seeing if it had any radio emissions that suggested that there might be technology on board. Speculation has suggested that the object may not be natural and could come from an alien civilization.

SETI scientists claim to have used the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) to observe Oumuamua when it was about 170 million miles away. That distance is slightly less than the diameter of the Earth's orbit. The goal was to measure the artificial radio emissions that would indicate that the object is not a random spatial debris launched from its domestic star system by a gravitational interaction with slingshot.

SETI says that despite "a fairly sensitive search" he did not find any signals emanating from the rock. The scientists say that the SETI observations do not completely rule out that Oumuamua has an unnatural origin, the study has also collected important data to evaluate the probable composition of the object.

The scuttlebutt on the non-natural origins of Oumuamua was mostly due to the shape of the object being similar to what Arthur C. Clark wrote about an interstellar spacecraft in his book "Rendezvous with Rama". Aside from its appearance similar to an imaginary starship, Oumuamua also lacked a coma that is unusual for asteroids and comets.

SETI observations were made between November 23 and December 5, 201

7, using the ATA broadband correlator at frequencies between 1 and 10 GHz with a frequency resolution of 100 kHz. SETI says that no signal was found at a level that would have been produced by an omnidirectional transmitter on the object with a power of 30-300 milliwatts.

While no radio signals were discovered on Oumuamua, scientists say their observations still have utility for the scientific community. The observations could shed light on the nature of any interstellar objects detected in the future or shed light on small but well-known objects in our solar system. ESA announced that it had found stars that could be Oumuamua's home in September.


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