Abraham (Avi) Loeb is the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy, founding director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative, and director of the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) within the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He also chairs the Advisory Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, serves as the science theory director for all Initiatives of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, as well as chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. Author of four books and over 700 scientific papers, Loeb is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics.
And now Harvard’s top astronomer professor Avi Loeb lays out in his book ‘Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth’ his controversial theory that our solar system was recently visited by advanced alien technology from a distant star. He has said that the object, named 1I/2017 U1 ‘Oumuamua’ by Nasa, wasn’t a natural occurrence but a bit of space junk sent to us by aliens from another galaxy.
1I/2017 U1 ‘Oumuamua’ was the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system that was discovered October 19, 2017, by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations (NEOO) Program. The program finds and tracks asteroids and comets in Earth’s neighbourhood.
Oumuamua was originally classified as a comet, however, observations revealed no signs of cometary activity after it slingshotted past the Sun on September 9, 2017, at a blistering speed of 196,000 miles per hour (87.3 kilometers per second), as per information available on solarsystem.nasa.gov. Nasa’s findings say that the space object had been wandering through the Milky Way Galaxy, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system.
In December 2017, Loeb cited ‘Oumuamua’s unusually elongated shape as one of the reasons why the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia would listen for radio emissions from it to see if there were any unexpected signs that it might be of ‘artificial orgin’, although earlier limited observations by other radio telescopes such as the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array had produced no such results. On 13 December 2017, the Green Bank Telescope observed the asteroid for six hours. No radio signals from ʻOumuamua have been detected.
On 26 October 2018, Loeb and his postdoc, Shmuel Bialy, submitted a paper exploring the possibility of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua being an artificial long/thin solar sail accelerated by solar radiation pressure in an effort to help explain the object’s non-gravitational acceleration. Other scientists have stated that the available evidence is insufficient to consider such a premise, and that a tumbling solar sail would not be able to accelerate. In response, Loeb wrote an article detailing six anomalous properties of ‘Oumuamua that make it unusual, unlike any comets or asteroids seen before.
On 27 November 2018, Loeb and his undergraduate student at Harvard College, Amir Siraj, proposed a search for ‘Oumuamua-like objects that might be trapped in the Solar System as a result of losing orbital energy through a close encounter with Jupiter. They identified 4 candidates for trapped interstellar objects that could be visited by dedicated missions (2011 SP25, 2017 RR2, 2017SV13 and in 2018 TL6). The authors pointed out that future sky surveys, such as with Vera C. Rubin Observatory, previously referred to as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), should find many more.
In public interviews and private communications with reporters and academic colleagues, Loeb has become increasingly vocal regarding the prospects of proving the existence of alien life. On April 16, 2019, Loeb and his undergraduate student, Amir Siraj, reported the discovery of the first meteor of interstellar origin. This discovery pioneers a new path for studying the composition and nature of interstellar objects.
‘Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth’ describes the detection of ‘Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object passing through our Solar System. In ‘Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth’, Loeb takes readers inside the thrilling story of the first interstellar visitor to be spotted in our solar system. He outlines his controversial theory and its profound implications: for science, for religion, and for the future of our species and our planet. A mind-bending journey through the furthest reaches of science, space-time, and the human imagination, ‘Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth’ challenges readers to aim for the stars – and to think critically about what’s out there, no matter how strange it seems. A must read!
Loeb has received many honors, including:
- 2015 – Elected Fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) SETI Permanent Committee
- 2015 – Elected Member of the American Physical Society (APS)
- 2014 – Member of the Board on Physics & Astronomy (BPA) of the National Academies
- 2013 – Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award from the American Astronomical Society, for the book ‘How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?’ (2010)
- 2013 – Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship, University of Melbourne, Australia
- 2012 – Elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
- 2012 – Galileo Galilei Chair (Cattedra Galileiana) Award, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy
- 2011 – Sackler Lecturer in Astronomy, Leiden Observatory, Netherlands
- 2011 – Las Cumbres Observatory Prize Lecturer in Astrophysics, UC Santa Barbara
- 2009 – Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Carnegie Observatories, Pasadena
- 2007 – Inaugural Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) End of Year Lecturer
- 2007 – Merle Kingsley Distinguished Visitor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- 2006/7 – John Bahcall Lecturer at Tel Aviv University University
- 2006 – Salpeter Lectureship at Cornell University
- 2004 – Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the Faculty of Physics and the Einstein Center for Theoretical Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science
- 2002 – Guggenheim Fellowship
- 1987 – The Kennedy Prize, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth
- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN-13/EAN: 9780358278146
- ISBN-10: 0358278147
- Pages: 240
- Price: $27.00
- Its also available as paperback, ebook and audiobook