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A Harvard astronomer wants to search for fragments of an interstellar meteorite out at sea

A Harvard astronomer wants to search for fragments of an interstellar meteorite out at sea

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from: Tanya Banner

Fireball over the sea. (iconic image) © imago / Imaginechina-Tuchong

Astronomer Avi Loeb wants to search for fragments of an interstellar meteorite in the sea. He hopes to be able to prove the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

CAMBRIDGE – Avi Loeb is arguably the astronomer whose work is the most talked about outside the scientific community. Because Loeb is the man who created the interstellar orb ‘Oumuamua, which flew across our solar system in 2017, for He carries an alien spaceship – which regularly causes press reports to be published. The astronomer also wrote a book on the subject. But Loeb isn’t just interested in ‘Oumuamua. After the discovery of the celestial body, he and his student Amir Siraj searched for other celestial bodies that might come from outside our solar system.

And the two struck gold: in 2019 they discovered ancient data The first interstellar meteor to hit Earth. On January 8, 2014, the celestial body, now known as IM1, collided with Earth at a speed of 45 kilometers per second. A fireball was generated and the nearly half-meter large object shattered as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Fragments fell into the sea about a hundred kilometers from the coast of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. But this does not stop Loeb: he wants to search for and save the fragments.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb hopes to find evidence of extraterrestrial existence

BACKGROUND: Data collected by the US military on the light curve of the fireball lead the researchers to conclude that the meteorite must have been particularly hard—harder than other meteorites for which fireball light curves are available. “Intrigued by this finding, I assembled a team that planned a two-week expedition to search the sea floor at a depth of 1.7 kilometers for meteorite fragments,” Loeb wrote in one. posted on the portal mode.

This project has raised over $1 million in donations as the team prepares to set sail this summer. “We have a ship. We have a dream team that includes some of the most experienced and qualified professionals in ocean exploration,” Loeb continued. The team also received permission from Papua New Guinea.

Interstellar meteorite: an astronomer wants to study its fragments

The fragments the research team will be looking for in the depths of the sea are likely to be only millimeters long – it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. “It’s worth the risk,” Loeb said. the gate The Daily Beast Tell. In Medium he continues: “Fragment composition analysis can provide information about whether an object is of natural or synthetic origin.”

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If it is artificial in nature, it could be strong evidence of extraterrestrial life. And even if the material was not produced by extraterrestrial intelligence, it should still be of interest for research. “In any case, we will learn something new,” Loeb says optimistically. In his medium contribution, he gets pathetic: “Elon Musk dreams of dying on Mars. I’m happy to stay on Earth as long as I have the chance to get my hands on an interstellar item.” (unpaid bill)