The scientists suspected that "Omwamwi" - alien ship

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins

The astronomers thought it might be an asteroid. If it was then deployed again on entering the solar system it would be pristine.

A mysterious, elongated object that was seen speeding past the sun in 2017 could have been a space probe sent by aliens to spy on Earth, according to Harvard researchers. But they had no idea where it came from. Whether Oumuamua was something natural, an old piece of busted technological junk, or extraterrestrial visitors, we'll probably never know for sure.

So far, there is no obvious origin for 'Oumuamua.

"This unusual object ... is less than [400 metres] in diameter and is moving remarkably fast", NASA said at the time. That and the object's unusual movements suggest it could have a source of power beyond gravitational pulls, they said. The visitor, dubbed Oumuamua (pronounced "oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah"), arrived from interstellar space, beyond the bubble-like region that demarcates the sun's domain.

Jackson said the spectral data from 'Oumuamua looks like an asteroid or a comet, while that of a solar sail would look very different.

"Not 'where is the lack of evidence so that I can fit in any hypothesis that I like?"

The team suggests it could be a "lightsail of artificial origin" sent on a journey by an alien civilization residing somewhere in deep space.

In November, a pair of Harvard researchers will publish a scientific paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, raising the possibility that Oumuamua could be a "fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation".

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"This is the only other explanation we could come up with", said Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's department of astronomy.

Loeb and colleague Shmuel Bial wrote that a solar sail, which uses light as a means of propulsion, could explain Oumuamua's behavior.

It's also entirely possible - perhaps more possible - that the object isn't part of a far-flung alien race's attempts to investigate the (other) occupants of the Milky Way. It's extremely unlikely that Oumuamua is actually an alien spacecraft, propelled by some sort of alien technology.

If the object is a lightsail, the paper adds it might have been floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it "like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean".

Since scientists are not able to explain the unusual features of a celestial body and its origin, giving it finally a new class of "interstellar objects".

There are less "exotic" explanations for Oumuamua that are still brain-meltingly awesome.

Oumuamua is indeed an odd, alien object. One, as Quanta magazine outlines, is the possibility is that Oumuamua is a shard of a planet that was blown up by a dying star.

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