Scientists claim they have recovered material that originated outside our solar system for the first time in history.
Alien-hunting Harvard physicist Professor Avi Loeb said early analysis of metal fragments his team recovered from the Pacific Ocean in June suggests they came from interstellar space.
The remnants came from a meteor-like object that crashed off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 2014, which Professor Loeb is not ruling out could have been fragments of an alien craft.
The team found about 700 tiny metallic spheres during the expedition and the 57 that were analyzed contain compositions that do not match any natural or man-made alloys.
The findings do not yet answer whether the spheres are artificial or natural in origin – which Professor Loeb said is the next question his research aims to answer.
‘This is a historic discovery because it represents the first time that humans put their hand on materials from a large object that arrived to Earth from outside the solar system, Professor Loeb said Tuesday.
The composition analysis of the spherules was performed by Stein Jacobsen and his cosmochemistry laboratory team at Harvard University.
Professor Loeb told DailyMail.com: ‘I was thrilled when Stein Jacobsen reported to me about it based on the results in his laboratory.
‘Stein is a highly conservative and professional geochemist with a worldwide reputation.
‘He had no bias or agenda whatsoever and expected to find familiar spherules with solar system composition.
‘But the data showed something new, never reported in the scientific literature. Science is guided by evidence.’
Professor Loeb also told DailyMail.com that future research would answer whether the fragments are simply part of a space rock or the debris of alien technology that has been floating through the cosmos for millennia.
‘For now, we wanted to check whether the materials are from outside the solar system,’ he said.
‘The success of the expedition illustrates the value of taking risks in science despite all odds as an opportunity for discovering new knowledge.’
Loeb and his team published their study on the findings, which has yet to be peer-reviewed.
It states the fragments – known as spherules – appeared to be nested, suggesting that liquid drops engulfed smaller ones that solidified earlier.
And textures on surfaces of the round objects point to a rapid cooling.
Analysis of the fragments showed they are rich in Beryllium, lanthanum and uranium, along with low content of elements that bind to iron, like Rhenium – one of the rarest elements found on Earth.
While the elements are found on Earth, Professor Loeb explained the patterns do not match the alloys found on our planet, moon, Mars or other natural meteorites in the solar system.
But the pattern could link IM1’s origins to the crust of an exoplanet with an iron core.
Professor Loeb also theorizes that because the combination of BeLaU has an ‘overabundance of heavy elements,’ the fragments could have been ejected from supernovae or neutron star mergers.
However, the pattern is associated with the ‘s-process’ that suggests the debris originated from an independent origin, such as Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars.
AGB stars are the final evolution stage of low- and intermediate-mass stars driven by nuclear burning.
Professor Loeb’s future research plans to unravel the puzzle.
For years, He has argued that Earth may have been visited by interstellar technology.
In 2017, an interstellar object named Oumuamua passed through the Solar System, and while most scientists believe it was a natural phenomenon, Professor Loeb famously argued it may have been of alien origin.
After the discovery of Oumuamua in 2017, Professor Loeb theorized – despite much criticism – that more interstellar objects had likely whizzed past Earth.
He was vindicated in 2019 when a student discovered that a high-speed fireball in 2014, the IM1 meteor, also had interstellar origins, predating Oumuamua.
The Harvard scientists spent years working closely with the US military to pinpoint the impact zone, combing through data to determine if and when the object fell from space.
Air friction burst IM1 into flames in mid-air as it careened towards Earth, leaving a trail of molten iron rain droplets in its wake on January 8 of that year.
The discovery that these interstellar metal fragments could be dredged from the Pacific with powerful magnets led to Professor Loeb and his Galileo team’s latest mission.
This past June, Professor Loeb and his team traveled to a site where the meteor IM1 was believed to have crashed nearly a decade ago.
Also known as CNEOS1 2014-01-08, the object had an estimated diameter of 1.5 feet, a mass of 1,014 pounds and a pre-impact velocity of 37.3 miles per second.
IM1 withstood four times the pressure that would typically destroy an ordinary iron-metal meteor — as it hurtled through Earth’s atmosphere at 100,215 miles per hour.
Iron is already the principal ingredient in the toughest known kinds of natural meteors, so the Harvard duo has theorized that there must be something highly unusual about how the object came to be made.
And now a battery of tests on the recovered IM1 fragments has proven that their chemical make-up is almost entirely iron: strong evidence in favor of the Harvard team’s most controversial theories about the object.