Everyone knows about the Wow! signal. It was detected almost 40 years ago coming from somewhere in the constellation Sagittarius, but it turned out to be a one-time event, and likely a false alarm. Nevertheless, according to Wikipedia, it is “considered the best candidate ever received for an alien radio transmission.”
Now we have another signal to think about. This was posted today at PhyOrg: ‘Strong signal’ stirs interest in hunt for alien life. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A “strong signal” detected by a radio telescope in Russia that is scanning the heavens for signs of extraterrestrial life has stirred interest among the scientific community. … The signal is from the direction of a HD164595, a star about 95 light-years from Earth. The star is known to have at least one planet, and may have more.
But there’s already some skepticism, or at least caution. We’re told:
“No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study,” said Paul Gilster, author of the Centauri Dreams website which covers peer-reviewed research on deep space exploration.
The observation is being made public now, but was actually detected last year by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, he [presumably Gilster] said. Experts say it is far too early to know what the signal means or where, precisely,it came from. “But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target,” wrote Gilster.
Permanent monitoring? Wow (so to speak). Let’s read on:
“Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization,” Gilster wrote, referring to a scale-system that indicates a civilization far more advanced than our own. “If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization,” indicating one closer to Earth’s capabilities.
On the Kardashev scale, a Type I civilization can use and store energy which reaches its planet from the neighboring star. We can do that — somewhat. A Type II civilization can harness the energy of the entire star (i.e., a Dyson sphere). If the signal comes from a Type II civilization, we would be significantly outclassed.
But it may turn out to be nothing. PhysOrg continues:
Nick Suntzeff, a Texas A&M University astronomer told the online magazine Ars Technica that the 11 gigahertz signal was observed in part of the radio spectrum used by the military. “If this were a real astronomical source, it would be rather strange,” Suntzeff was quoted as saying.
Here’s another quote from Suntzeff:
“I would follow it if I were the astronomers, but I would also not hype the fact that it may be at SETI signal given the significant chance it could be something military.”
PhysOrg also says:
The discovery is expected to feature in discussions at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on September 27.
So there you are. It may be nothing, or it may be something big. At this point, nobody knows — well, the creationists do. Anyway, we haven’t heard the last of this.
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