(London Independent) The Harvard scientists who suggested a piece of space rock might actually be an alien spacecraft flying past Earth says the strange visitor “doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before”.

Astronomer Avi Loeb kicked off international intrigue when he co-authored a paper that suggested Oumuamua, which flew past Earth last year, could have been a probe sent by aliens from deep in space to survey Earth. The research explored the unexpected movement of the rock and suggested that it could be a “lightsail”, which was sent intentionally by aliens to investigate Earth.

But even if the rock has a natural origin then it is incredibly strange, Professor Loeb told the Today programme. It has a strange shape, doesn’t show the characteristics usually observed in comets and asteroids, and is flying through space in a way that scientists wouldn’t expect it to, he said.