Five years ago a very strange object—maybe a thousand feet long, oblong, shiny and fast—streaked across space, tens of millions of miles from Earth. Its course and speed indicated it had come from outside the solar system. A visitor from another star.
Astronomers dubbed the thing ‘Oumuamua—Hawaiian for “scout”—and started arguing about it.
On one side are an overwhelming majority of scientists who don’t know what ‘Oumuamua is, but aren’t willing to speculate as to what it might be.
On the other side, are a much smaller camp led by Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who argues that we should at least consider the possibility that ‘Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft.
Now Loeb is asking the next logical question. How many other ‘Oumuamuas could there be in and around the solar system? In a new study that appeared online on Sept. 22 and hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, Loeb and his coauthor Carson Ezell, also a Harvard astronomer, concluded there are as many as 4,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 4 quintillion) of them.
Each is a visitor from another star, and each, possibly, artificially created.
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