Harvard professor Avi Loeb found fragments in the ocean that could be terrestrial
An astrophysicist from Harvard University believes that he has found evidence of extraterrestrial life not by studying the night sky, but by combing the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
Last month, a crew on a boat called the Silver Star embarked on an expedition to Papua New Guinea on a mission to recover fragments of a mysterious meteorite that hit Earth in 2014.
During the two-week excursion, the team traveled more than 100 miles of the ocean floor, recovering 50 tiny spheres of metallic matter they say are unlike any alloys found in the solar system. .
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The orbs – so small they require a microscope to see – require further testing to determine whether they are natural or man-made. According to the findings, these objects may be the first time humanity has found concrete evidence of interstellar life.
In other words, aliens.
Harvard University professor and astrophysicist Avi Loeb, who led the expedition as chief scientist, said: “Our discoveries open new frontiers in astronomy by using microscopes, not telescopes, to study things beyond the solar system.
The search for an interstellar meteor yields surprising results
The fragments found by the team are believed to have come from a basketball-sized meteorite that crashed into Earth’s atmosphere and the western Pacific Ocean in 2014.
The meteorite, which originated outside the solar system, was moving twice as fast as any star close to the Sun, Loeb said. Although too small to be detected by telescopes through the reflection of sunlight, its collision with Earth produced a bright fireball that was recorded by US government sensors, Loeb added.
In a 2019 paper co-authored with Harvard University student Amir Siraj, Loeb identified the meteorite’s interstellar origin. Three years later, the US Space Command confirmed in a 2022 letter to NASA that the object, believed to be an interstellar meteor IM1, came from another solar system.
The $1.5 million expedition, led by Loeb, aimed to recover fragments from the Pacific Ocean explosion at the crash site near Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Between June 14 and 28, the crew searched more than 108 miles of ocean floor, spreading it out with a sled full of magnets attached to their boat.
It took several days to get the magnetic sled to the ocean floor, Loeb said, and several more days to determine exactly what the crew collected in the meteor’s predicted path — about 53 miles away. Off the coast of Manus Island.
“When we took the magnets, the most abundant material attached to them was a black powder of volcanic ash,” he wrote on Medium.com.
But after a week at sea, the breakthrough Loeb was looking for finally arrived. Under the microscope, a team member observed “an incredible metallic marble, sub-millimeter in size and milligram in mass,” Loeb wrote. After the discovery, the team continued to find more orbs.
A preliminary analysis of the spheres’ composition showed that they did not match typical alloys or natural meteorites in the solar system, Loeb said. The crew brought 50 spheres to the Harvard College Observatory for further study.
The main question scientists hope to answer is whether the meteorite was natural or artificial. In other words, is it the remains of an alien spacecraft?
According to a statement from American businessman Charles Hoskinson, who financed the expedition, “We were able to find some fragments in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, looking for something the size of a watermelon.” “This operation has yielded incredible science and I hope will capture the imagination of the general public in the pursuit of intelligent life in the universe.”
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The expedition team recently held its first meeting to plan and write a scientific paper describing the findings, Loeb said.
The team hopes to complete a preliminary analysis in three laboratories at Harvard, Germany, and the University of California, Berkeley, the results of which, Loeb said, will be included in a paper submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. during the month.
Loeb did not lose sight of the importance of the discovery that he could hold, the consequences of which will fundamentally change the understanding of humanity about the universe and our place in it. A few days after returning from the expedition, Loeb recalls FedEx delivering a black plastic suitcase containing materials to his front door.
“Then I realized that for the first time in history, humans had material from a meter-sized object outside the solar system, the first known interstellar meteor.” , Loeb told USA TODAY. “FedEx was the last leg of a billion-year journey through interstellar space before this package arrived at my doorstep.”
Eric Lagatta covers the latest news and trends for USA TODAY. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta.
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