SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers at Harvard believe that a cigar-shaped object found moving through our solar system could have alien origins.

Background: Oumuamua is an interstellar object that has puzzled scientists ever since it was discovered by astronomers in Maui, Hawaii, last year.

  • Its name is Hawaiian and translates as "a messenger that reaches out from the distant past" in English.
  • According to Vox, the cigar-shaped object has been tumbling through our solar system at speeds that have allowed it to overcome the sun’s gravitational pull. People have compared its movement to that of a comet.

What’s going on: Researchers at Harvard say that an interstellar object seen zooming through our solar system may have alien origins.

  • Axios reported that the study suggests that solar radiation pressure could be behind the object’s “peculiar” acceleration around the sun. If this is the case, it’s possible that Oumuamua’s design was deliberate.
  • The Harvard researchers say that Oumuamua could be a solar light sail, designed to be carried along by the solar wind.

But that’s not all. The study proceeds to make an even more “far out” claim.

  • "A more exotic scenario is that 'Oumuamua' may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” the researchers wrote.
  • According to Axios, the fact that the study is linked back to Harvard University lends it some credibility, but many scientists have been extremely critical of the claims it makes.
  • "No, 'Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship and the authors of the paper insult honest scientific inquiry to even suggest it," said Ohio State astrophysicist Paul Sutter via Twitter.

Bottom line: One thing is for sure, more evidence is needed before making any definite conclusions about the interstellar object.