"UFO hunters claim to have spotted a planet sized alien spacecraft hovering next to Mercury.

The mysterious object appears in a video of a massive burst of energy, known as a coronal mass ejection, coming from the sun.

Analysis of the video shows an object which only becomes visible after the solar flare passes through an area of apparently empty space.

This, conspiracy theorists say, is proof of the existence of a huge alien spacecraft using a 'cloaking device'.

A Youtube video analyzing the discovery has received over 165,000 hits in just a few days as conspiracy theorists excitedly discuss their new 'discovery'.

The video's narrator, known as siniXster, is adamant he has found proof of intelligent life in outer space.

"Holy smokes. Look at that, that is definitely some sort of manufactured object. It's cylindrical on either side, it has a shape in the middle.

It definitely looks like a ship to me and it's very obviously cloaked." He says in the video commentary.

Experts aren't so quick to jump on the 'the-Death-Star-is-coming-to-get-us' bandwagon, however.

Nathan Rich from the United States Naval Research Laboratory says the mystery object is simply a digital hangover from an earlier image.

Dr Rich explained that to ensure the image of a solar flare stands out, researchers will compare the images with photos from the day before, then scrub out any objects that appear twice.

This process is simple with stationary objects like stars, Dr Rich explains, but more difficult with moving objects such as planets or asteroids.

"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." Dr Rich told Space.com.

Speaking to The Daily Mail, astronomer Dr Heather Couper agrees.

"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."

But then she would say that, wouldn't she?

December 8, 2011, 3:32 pm
Yahoo! New Zealand