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Is weird object a starship? Scientists will check

'Oumuamua
An artist’s conception shows what the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua might look like. (ESO Illustration / M. Kornmesser)

Is that cigar-shaped, fast-moving interstellar object a spaceship? Almost certainly not, but Breakthrough Listen will check just to make sure.

The Breakthrough Listen campaign, which checks celestial targets for radio signals from intelligent civilizations, will turn the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia toward the object, known as ‘Oumuamua, starting Dec. 13.

Scientists will check for emissions across four radio bands from 1 to 12 GHz. The first phase of observations will take up 10 hours, divided into four key time periods based on ‘Oumuamua’s period of rotation.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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