The space object, which is the first interstellar phenomenon to reach our solar system, has been labelled ‘Oumuamua’ after the Hawaiian for ‘scout’. The head of astronomy at Harvard University, Avi Loeb, told Express.co.uk that he thinks it could be artificial in origin. He explained: “Oumuamua was the very first interstellar object. It was very strange on many counts.
“First, as it rotated, its brightness changed by at least a factor of ten which implies that it’s at least ten times longer than it is wide.
“That’s a very extreme shape compared to the asteroids or comets that we’ve found in the solar system.
“In addition, it has no trail around it or any traces of gases like carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide to a very tight limit.
“At the same time, the object showed a deviation from the orbit that one would expect – so there was an extra push exhibited by the orbit.
“The possibility is that this object was extremely thin, less than a millimetre thick, and that it was pushed by sunlight.
“And that’s what we proposed in a scientific paper that was published in November 2018 where we suggested that it might be a light sail.
“Which is a technology that we’re currently developing for the purpose of propulsion in space.
“The advantage of this technology – where you basically push on a sail with light being reflected off it just like the wind is reflected off the sail of a sailboat – the advantage is that you don’t need to carry the fuel with you.
“And you can, in principle, reach a fraction of the speed of light with this technology.
“So we suggested that maybe this object is artificial in origin.
“And, of course, that got a lot of media attention.”
Mr Loeb claimed that the probe was likely not on a random orbit.
He said: “A much more likely scenario is that such a probe is not on a random orbit but on an orbit that is plunging towards the core of the solar system to look around and see if there is any life here.
“And it’s potentially of interest for other civilisations to get inside the habitable zone of stars and see what’s going on there.
“I would think it’s much more likely that it’s on a reconnaissance mission.”