Dr Colin Snodgrass - Oumuamua: interstellar comet or alien probe?

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Dr Colin Snodgrass - 'Oumuamua: interstellar comet or alien probe?

In 2017 astronomers discovered the first interstellar object - a small comet or asteroid coming from another star system. It flew past Earth at great speed, and was visible to our telescopes for only a couple of weeks. These observations revealed a number of surprising properties, which led some people (including very senior professional astronomers) to suggest that this may be an alien spacecraft. I'll examine those claims, and reveal the latest theories about 'Oumuamua and its origins.

Colin Snodgrass is a Scottish astronomer who specialises in studying comets. He grew up in the Borders and studied at St Andrews and Queen's University Belfast before working at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, and the Open University in England. He returned to Scotland as a Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where he combines research into comets and asteroids with teaching astronomy and building links between academic research and the space industry in Edinburgh, as part of the university's Data Driven Innovation initiative.

Colin's research combines observations of comets using telescopes on Earth with spacecraft exploration. He was part of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission team, and now is the deputy lead for ESA's next comet mission, which is proposed to launch in 2028 to intercept a yet-to-be-discovered comet. He is part of the team that will use the next generation Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile to discover very distant comets. When the interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua was discovered in 2017, Colin led efforts to obtain spectroscopy observations with the Very Large Telescope in Chile, to discover what it is made of.

Twitter - @colinsnodgrass
http://www.roe.ac.uk/~csn/

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