A strange signal from space has scientists on their toes

A star similar to our sun, located tens of light-years from Earth, emits a signal that puzzles astronomers. This is probably not a sign of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, but still, the International Organization for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life (Seti) is taking a close interest in this matter.

The signal was detected by the Russian Ratan-600 radio telescope on May 15, 2015. The emitting star, named HD164595, is 94 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Hercules. Although the thesis of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life has been ruled out for the moment, the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has decided to closely follow the evolution of the famous signal, pointing its radio telescope since August 28 – the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) – towards the star HD164595.

Credits: александр с кавказа / Wikipedia

The signal is said to have intriguing characteristics, revealed by blogger Paul Glister who published an article on the subject, after attending a presentation last weekend by Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone. Thus, the next meeting of the international congress of Seti, which will take place in Mexico on September 27, 2016, will focus on the signal.

Paul Glister indicates in his article that « no one claims that this is the trace of an extraterrestrial civilization » but that “the signal is provocative enough for the Ratan-600 researchers to call for permanent monitoring of this target”.

What does this signal look like? It is simply a loud two-second “beep” followed by a return to silence. The plot is located precisely at this level since according to the researchers, there is only a 0.02% chance that the signal is what is called ambient noise (resulting from the measurement of the latter). Nevertheless, to be able to affirm that it is of artificial source, it would be necessary that the wave is repeated, which would constitute a criterion arousing a strong interest of Seti. The institute prefers for the moment to speak of an “interesting” signal, adding that it could just as well be terrestrial interference. For its part, the Institute of Applied Astronomy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, through the voice of its director Alexander Ipatov, declared that the signal probably came from a Soviet military satellite.

Credits: C. Maccone et al./Centauri Dreams

“There is approximately one Seti candidate every three years. [Ils] have always been denied or explained with a natural phenomenon” explains French astrophysicist Jean Schneider for the HuffingtonPost.

Sources: SETI – Science Alert – Huffington Post

Image credit: Centauri Dreams – Summitpost

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