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'Interstellar meteorite' may have been a passing truck – 'has hundreds of similar signals'

'Interstellar meteorite' may have been a passing truck – 'has hundreds of similar signals'

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While searching for fragments of an interstellar meteorite, the research team finds what they are looking for. But that was a mistake, as another researcher explains.

BALTIMORE – Astronomer Abraham (Avi) Loeb is also well-known outside the research community: he was the one who announced that the interstellar object “Oumuamua” may have been an “extraterrestrial spacecraft.” He also conducted a media search for meteorite fragments suspected to be in the Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea. According to Loeb, the meteorite is said to be an object from outside our solar system.

But Loeb is also controversial: his theory that “Oumuamua is an extraterrestrial spacecraft” was met with little enthusiasm by researchers. In his search for the meteorite, he faces more rejection. Immediately after the presentation of the stones in the sea, other researchers criticized Loeb and his work. Now a new study suggests that Loeb and his team may have been looking in the wrong place. And that's not all: it seems that the team was looking in the wrong place because they misinterpreted the data from the seismometer.

Perhaps sound waves from an “interstellar meteorite” can be traced back to trucks

This is what a research team led by planetary seismologist Benjamin Fernando of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore claims. According to a statement, Fernando's team evaluated the seismometer data used by Loeb and came to a surprising conclusion: The sound waves believed to be the meteorite north of Papua New Guinea were apparently the vibrations of a truck, which rolled across a nearby street. . The study on this has not yet been reviewed by experts, it is Available on the ArXiv preprint server.

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His team looked at two weeks of data surrounding the meteorite fall, Fernando says in one of them meeting with The New York Times. “We saw hundreds of signals similar to the ones Loeb studied. “If there are hundreds of them, they can't all be meteorites,” says Fernando, explaining how his team discovered the confusion. “Of these hundreds of signals, most of them occur in broad daylight. The signal that Loeb saw and the signals we saw all occur more frequently during the day. “This is an indication of anthropogenic noise.”

Astronomer Abraham (Avi) Loeb is always controversial. (Archive photo) © AFP/Lotem Loeb

The Signal has all the characteristics of a truck and none of the Meteor

In one An announcement from his university Fernando became more precise: “The signal changed its direction over time and corresponded exactly with the path passing through the seismometer.” It is difficult to be sure that the signal is not coming from something specific, says the researcher critically and the drive continues: “But we can show that there are many such signals, and that they have all the properties that we would expect from a truck, but none of the properties that we would expect from a meteorite.” “

Using seismic data from Australia and Palau, the team also identified a more suitable location to search for meteorite fragments, said to be more than 160 kilometers away from the actual search site. “The location of the fireball was very far from where the oceanographic expedition found these meteorite fragments,” Fernando asserts. “Not only did you use the wrong signal, you also looked in the wrong place.”

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Avi Loeb defends himself, relying on US Department of Defense data

So the material Loeb and his team collected from the sea floor are completely ordinary meteorites – or meteorite fragments mixed with Earth's dirt. Fernando added: “Everything found at the bottom of the ocean has nothing to do with this meteorite, whether it is a natural space rock or a piece of an alien spacecraft – even if we strongly suspect that they are not aliens.”

A ball of fire over the sea.  (icon image)
A ball of fire over the sea. (Avatar) © imago/Imaginechina-Tuchong

In response to the new version Loeb writes onlineHis team relied mainly on US Department of Defense data. “There is nothing you can say to people who want to refute reliable information from the Ministry of Defense,” the critical researcher continues. It seems as if the story surrounding the first interstellar meteorite is far from over. (unpaid bill)