A cigar-shaped object likely to be an interstellar asteroid is being checked for signs of alien technology, scientists have said.
The claim was made as researchers involved in Seti - the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence - prepared to turn a powerful dish telescope towards the mysterious celestial body called "Oumuamua."
Financed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, the first scan of the object will begin on Wednesday and will last 10 hours, with astronomers using four different radio frequency bands.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii first spotted Oumuamua in October passing the Earth at about 85 times the distance to the moon. It is the first object discovered in the solar system that appears to have originated from another part of the galaxy.
"Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimise friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust," read a statement from the Breakthrough Listen programme, led by Milner.
The mogul said his team want to measure the asteroid before it travels beyond the reach of earth's scanning equipment. Oumuamua will journey past Jupiter in 2018, and will reach Pluto by around 2020.