A gigantic object the size of a planet has appeared on astronomers screens lurking near Mercury, with UFO hunters around the world wondering whether it’s an alien ship.
The object appears from nowhere in a sequence of images of a coronal ejection from the Sun, taken by a Nasa telescope. As the flare races past Mercury, a huge round object appears next to it – but Nasa scientists insist that the object is merely a result of the way the images are processed. Over 100,000 YouTube users have watched the sequence taken by the Heliospheric Imager-1 telescope. It was uploaded by user siniXster and he says in his commentary: ‘It's cylindrical on either side and has a shape in the middle. It definitely looks like a ship to me, and very obviously, it's cloaked.’ However, experts say that there is no alien race hiding away in our solar system. The image from the telescope was analysed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory, with engineer Nathan Rich explaining that the ‘object’ is actually the image of Mercury from the previous day.
To make sure that the solar flare stood out, researchers compare the image with one taken the day before and subtract anything that appears twice - because that means it's interfering background light. Stars are easily eliminated, but moving objects, like planets, are more difficult to remove. Rich told Space.com: ‘When [this averaging process] is done between the previous day and the current day and there is a feature like a planet, this introduces dark artifacts in the background where the planet was on the previous day, which then show up as bright areas in the enhanced image.’ Astronomer Dr Heather Couper also agrees that it’s not a huge death star. She told MailOnline: ‘The scientists have not managed to subtract the image of Mercury. The technical guys are saying the problem is that when you try to subtract something that’s moving the pixels blend into each. ‘It’s imaging processing that they haven’t got their heads around. No way could it be an alien spaceship the size of Mercury because Mercury is the size of our moon and we would know about it."