Scientists pass their verdict on a Harvard professor’s claim to find material under the ocean from outside our solar system

A recent claim by a Harvard University scientist that strange spherical materials of interstellar origin have been found from beneath the ocean is “unconvincing” so far and remains “inconsistent,” according to the scientists.

Avi Loeb, a theoretical astrophysicist at Harvard University, recently made headlines when he said that “spheres” found on the sea floor off the coast of Papua New Guinea likely came from outside the solar system and were carried by an interstellar object that crashed into Earth in 2014. .

He even claimed that the material could be of “extraterrestrial technological origin”, such as an alien spacecraft, due to some of its unusual properties.

“This is a historic discovery because it marks the first time that scientists have analyzed material from a large object that arrived on Earth from outside the solar system,” Dr. Loeb said in a statement last week.

However, scientists unrelated to the research said such explanations for the “globules” could not be offered by the research, which is also awaiting peer review.

British astronomer Monica Grady said peer-reviewed evidence was needed to accept such explanations.

Loeb has now provided a very detailed set of analytical data for 57 spheres in an article submitted to a journal. But it has not yet undergone the peer review that academics require before research can be accepted as a project. Conversation.

She found “no concerns” about the new analysis and agreed that the “pellets”, or molten droplets, may have come from extraterrestrials due to the presence of unusual metallic particles usually found in meteorites.

However, Dr. Grady also said that the conclusions drawn from the analysis are “a bit inconsistent.”

The Harvard physicist named some of the exotic materials in the spherules “BeLaU” particles because they are rich in beryllium, lanthanum and uranium.

He ruled these out as intrasolar materials because of their composition of different forms of iron.

While the “BeLaU globules” have a very different iron composition compared to what is found in terrestrial bodies and the solar system, Dr. Grady wrote that this still “does not rule them out” from bodies such as asteroids that “did not undergo planetary formation”. practical”.

She said that the interaction of accelerating meteorites with atmospheric air can transfer unusual iron combinations to these particles, as their materials are eroded due to friction, which leads to the production of cosmic pellets.

“The BeLaU globules contain iron isotope compositions in the same range as the cosmic globules. This could imply that they are indeed from within the solar system,” wrote Dr. Grady, who is known for her work on meteorites.

Based on the presence of the BeLaU material, the Harvard scientist also argued that the globules could have originated from the magma ocean of an iron-rich orb.

But the abundant presence of these elements in the globules does not provide a definitive conclusion to point to their interstellar origin, said ASU cosmochemist Larry Netler. nature.

He said the different shapes of some of the elements in the globules are “very similar” to those found in some bodies from within the solar system.

While Dr. Grady agrees that some of the material Dr. Loeb’s team has recovered from the seafloor is “interesting”, she said “none of the evidence” presented so far is “convincing enough” to conclude that it is from outside the solar system or that it does exist. . from an alien spacecraft.

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