"`Oumuamua 1i 2017 U1" by Interpott.nrw Unser Kosmos / CC BY-SA 4.0

Mysterious interstellar visitor was probably a ‘dark hydrogen iceberg,’ not aliens

Jun 4, 2020

By Louise Lerner

The aliens came on Oct. 19, 2017.

That was the day telescopes picked up a strange object with an odd, elongated shape that moved like a comet—but had no apparent tail. The object, which baffled astronomers and led some to claim it could be a spacecraft sent by intelligent life, was named ‘Oumuamua, which means “messenger from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian. But a new theory proposed by University of Chicago and Yale astronomers explains the phenomenon without aliens—but with interesting scientific implications.

“It’s a frozen iceberg of molecular ,” said Darryl Seligman, an incoming UChicago postdoctoral fellow who authored a paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters laying out the explanation. “This explains every mysterious property about it. And if it’s true, it’s likely that the galaxy is full of similar objects.”

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