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Scientists Say Cigar-Shaped Interstellar Object Not an Alien Spaceship

Its name in the native Hawaiian language means a messenger arriving from a great distance

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Artist's rendering of Oumuamua as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. (Image Credit: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser via NASA). VOA

After investigating the nature of a mysterious and apparently cigar-shaped object called ‘Oumuamua spotted in 2017 speeding through our solar system, astronomers remain uncertain over how to classify it, but are confident it is not an alien spaceship.

Its odd shape and motion had prompted some scientists to wonder whether ‘Oumuamua, the first object from another star system found passing through our solar system, was some sort of alien technology perhaps exploring the cosmos. But after poring over the data, an international team of researchers wrote that “we find no compelling evidence to favor an alien explanation.”

Scientists tracked the reddish-colored ‘Oumuamua from Oct. 14, 2017, until Jan. 2, 2018, after which it became too faint to detect even using the most powerful telescopes. It is estimated to be a half-mile (800 meters) long, tumbling through space.

Consistent with natural origin

Scientists, Interstellar, Alien Spaceship
It is estimated to be a half-mile (800 meters) long, tumbling through space. Pixabay

“Our key finding is that ‘Oumuamua’s properties are consistent with a natural origin and an alien explanation is unwarranted,” said University of Maryland astronomer Matthew Knight, co-leader of the research published in the Nature Astronomy.

“Yes, if it made a sudden, unexplainable turn that would certainly have warranted further exploration,” Knight added.

‘Oumuamua was first detected by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. Its name in the native Hawaiian language means a messenger arriving from a great distance.

Knight said it is not easy to fit ‘Oumuamua into familiar classifications such as a comet or asteroid.

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“We have tried to avoid putting it in one of those boxes and prefer to call it more generically an ‘object,’” Knight said. “In simple terms, asteroids are rocky and devoid of ices, while comets are a mixture of rock and ice, so-called ‘dirty snowballs,’” Knight added.

Planetary building block

‘Oumuamua was somehow ejected from a distant star system, traversing through interstellar space and through our solar system. It deviated slightly from a path that would be explained purely by the Sun’s gravitational pull because of what some researchers said was apparently a very small emission of gas from its surface, indicative of a comet, though any such emission was so slight as to be undetected. It lacked a dust tail or gas jets, characteristic of comets.

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Oumuamua was first detected by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. Pixabay

The researchers wrote that a “straightforward explanation for ‘Oumuamua is that it is a planetesimal” — a planetary building block, or a fragment of one — formed in faraway star system.

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Its composition remains a mystery, including whether it is just rock or includes some metal or other ingredients. It is currently beyond Saturn, dashing out of our solar system. (VOA)

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Chinese Scientists Develop Combined Tumor-Killing Therapy

The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University developed a common immune checkpoint inhibitor in a nanoparticle formulation

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The study published on Friday in the journal Science Immunology described the new cancer immunotherapy that can prevent the immune system from becoming tolerant of tumors. Pixabay

Chinese scientists developed a combined tumor-killing therapy that can be activated specifically at tumor sites in mouse models of cancer, which is more effective than previous similar therapies.

The study published on Friday in the journal Science Immunology described the new cancer immunotherapy that can prevent the immune system from becoming tolerant of tumors, which occurs in 30 per cent of all cancer patients, the Xinhua news agency reported.

A team led by Wang Dangge from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University developed a common immune checkpoint inhibitor in a nanoparticle formulation, which is highly tumor-specific.

The checkpoint inhibitor is a kind of increasingly popular anti-tumor drug. It can block proteins that keep immune T cells from killing cancer. But the checkpoint inhibitor used to target those immune system-suppressing proteins like PD-1 and PD-L1 often fails to reach deep-seated or metastatic tumors.

Chinese, Scientists, Tumor
Chinese scientists developed a combined tumor-killing therapy that can be activated specifically at tumor sites in mouse models of cancer, Pixabay

Wang’s team combined the nanoparticles carrying PD-L1-targeting antibodies with a light-activated molecule. The molecule called photosensitiser can produce tumor-killing reactive oxygen species after encountering a protein abundant in tumors, according to the study.

In mouse models, a local near-infrared radiation that activated the photosensitiser, along with the administration of antibodies-carrying nanoparticles, promoted the infiltration of cancer cell-killing T cells into the tumor site and made the tumors more sensitive to the checkpoint blockade.

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This combination also helped the nanoparticles effectively suppress tumor growth and metastasis to the lung and lymph nodes, resulting in approximately 80 per cent mouse survival over 70 days, compared to complete mouse death in 45 days in the group treated with only PD-L1 antibodies, according to the study. (IANS)