(ORDO NEWS) — Renowned astrophysicist Avi Loeb has calculated that quintillions of objects could fly through the solar system, like the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua, which Loeb himself considers a ship of an alien civilization.
Five years ago, astronomers noticed a small but extremely unusual object. Judging by its trajectory and speed, it came to us from interstellar space, becoming the first known asteroid to come from outside the solar system.
At the same time, Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, known not only for his significant scientific achievements, but also for his rather eccentric views, came up with his own original hypothesis, calling 1I / ‘Oumuamua a probe of an alien civilization.
In his new work, Loeb develops this idea by estimating the possible number of such objects in the space of the solar system.
His paper, co-written by Carson Ezell, is available from the arXiv open online preprint library . Having carried out simple calculations, the authors arrive at a stunning figure of four quintillion (billion billion, or 10 18 ).
Scientists rely on the available and very scarce data on observations of interstellar bodies in the solar system.
So far, only four have been discovered: in addition to Oumuamua, these are the CNEOS 2014-01-08 and CNEOS 2017-03-09 meteorites, as well as the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov.
All of them were seen within eight years, between 2014 and 2022. Adjusting for the limitations of existing observational instruments, Loeb and Ezell conclude that in total there may be on the order of 40 decillion (10 33 ) such bodies in the galaxy.
Next, the scientists estimated how many of them could fly through the inner regions of the solar system, within the habitable zone of our star.
This is the name given to the space where the temperature is moderate enough so that water on the surface of celestial bodies can exist in liquid form, providing comfortable conditions for the development of life in forms known to us. This brings the number down to four quintillion.
The authors emphasize that we are not talking about a colossal armada of alien probes. Most of these celestial bodies may well be interstellar comets or asteroids. However, some part of their mind-boggling number may be spaceships – or at least fragments of them.
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