- Harvard astronomer Loeb, in 2019 had tried to publish his research regarding the “alien” origin of a fireball seen crashing near the Pacific Ocean.
- The article was not published for a long time due to its controversial nature and now in a declassified memo, the US Government has confirmed Loeb’s hypothesis.
- The fireball has been described as an “interstellar meteor” and Loeb is all set to study its origins and composition by a project being conducted off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
In what can be described as a dream come true for all 90’s kids and adults, often found flocking before television, or at their nearest movie theatres, to witness the parallel universe of Sonnenfeld’s hit classic, the Men in Black, it seems as if the aliens have finally made their contact. The existence of a secret Government organization which monitors activity for all “extraterrestrial” beings “immigrating” through Earth, with the aid of multiple cool gadgets and all so while dressed in swanky tailored suits, may have been “fictional conjecture” in the past, not so anymore.
Harvard Institute astronomer, Avi Loeb has confirmed and has been supported in his claims by the US government itself, regarding an unidentified “interstellar” object crashing into the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
Who is Avi Loeb?
Avi Loeb is a leading astronomer at Harvard and is known for his vocal and unsurprisingly, debatable ideas on the existence of alien life. He shot to fame or infamy in 2017 due to his controversial views on “Oumuamua”. In October 2017, Robert Weryk used the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii to spot an unknown interstellar object, the size of almost a football field, passing around 33 million kilometres from Earth.
Many scientists have tried to explain the existence of Omuamua which is named after the Hawaiian term for “scout”. Some researchers have attributed it to an interstellar meteor while some say it’s a rogue comet, this, however, cannot be explained due to its lack of basic defining features of one, such as a coma itself. Others have tried and failed, to purport it as a fragment from a neighbouring planet since Omuamua’s planetary origin continues to be unknown. In short, scientists are still not very sure of this shocking event’s explanation.
That’s where Loeb comes in. He confidently proclaimed his views about Omuamua being an Unidentified Flying Object(UFO). In simple terms, an alien origin solar sail was sent to us from another star system. In his new book, titled “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth”, Loeb explores his provocative hypothesis. He exclaims that while scientists are trying to fit an event into a natural framework for the sake of doing so, Loeb wishes to go beyond and modestly explore a possibility of the unknown.
Unsurprisingly, his comments were met with sharp disapproval and rebuttals at the hands of the scientific community. Matthew Knight and his team at the University of Maryland published a manuscript in the Nature Astronomy journal shirking away from any doubts and that too with supporting evidence to deny alien explanations for Omuamua. Even Weryk, who discovered it was disapproving and believes that the event can be attributed to a fragment flying off of a planet away from our solar system.
What is the “interstellar” discovery in the Pacific
In 2014, the media vehemently covered the news of a “fireball” crashing into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Papua New Guinea. This sent the world into a frenzy as many argued regarding subjects ranging from a piece of a UFO falling off to even the impending doom of Earth due to unavoidable asteroid showers. In the middle of the commotion, Avi Loeb along with his protege, astrophysicist Amir Siraj, set off to confirm the extraterrestrial origin of the same.
It started when Loeb advised Siraj to look through NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies database, which catalogues meteors and fireballs, to see if anything stuck out. And it did. Siraj noticed the speed of the unidentified fireball from 2014 and believed it could definitely have been an interstellar meteor. The pair got to work and wrote a manuscript on their findings but inevitably struggled to get it published due to the red tape around the subject. Also, the major obstacle on the journey was the fact that much information regarding the event itself was contained in a classified document, under the iron hands of the US government, forcing the duo to work ever so cautiously around them.
When in 2019, Loeb and Siraj finally submitted their work for publication to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, it coincidently ended up in the inbox of Joel Mozer the chief scientist of Space Operations Command at the US Space Force. After a pre-print of the pair’s study was made public, it resulted in an ordeal of scientists requesting the Government to confirm whether indeed the velocity of the fireball was similar as mentioned and hence indirectly comparable to being of interstellar origin. Finally, at the Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium, US Space Command deputy commander John Shaw announced that “a previously-detected interstellar object was indeed an interstellar object”.
Now, three years later, the US government has in fact confirmed Loeb and Siraj’s hypothesis in a now-declassified memo by the US Space Command which had affirmed that the fireball seen off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 2014 was, in fact, the first interstellar meteor known to fall to Earth.
So what now for Loeb
Undoubtedly the scientist is thrilled by the confirmation from the US government. He believes that the rigorous study of the interstellar meteor will be a new frontier in alien origin research as mused in an essay published by him on The Debrief. Although he is doubtful whether much of the technological aspects of the meteor would have survived the crash and the course of time, he’s nevertheless determined.
Loeb plans to conduct a retrieval operation in the Pacific Ocean to collect whatever data of interest he can get his hands on. This will be achieved through an intricate magnetic retrieval technology using scooping magnets in an area of roughly 10 square kilometres in the Pacific where the object was believed to have crash-landed.
Loeb explains his dream of “pressing a few buttons” on an alien made piece of technology in his essay. Whether he will be successful in his endeavours or not will be interesting to watch. Also, although the Pentagon hasn’t revealed much, the declassified memo is itself, the first admission of its kind. Hopefully, it will work to fuel a future of more interesting discoveries of interstellar treasures and help to abolish the red tape around alien or extraterrestrial subjects.