Mysterious signal stirs interest
Scientists’ interests have been piqued by a “strong signal” detected by a radio telescope in Russia that scans for signs of extraterrestrial life.
“No-one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilisation, but it is certainly worth further study,” said space science expert Paul Gilster.
The signal appears to be from HD 164595, a star about 95 light-years from Earth, which is orbited by at least one planet.
The signals have only just been published, but were detected last year by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia.
“The signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target," Mr Gilster says.
“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.”
“If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilisation.”
Mr Gilster said Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone has called for permanent monitoring of the target.
Nick Suntzeff, a Texas A&M University astronomer has told tech magazine Ars Technica that the observed 11 gigahertz signal was in a part of the radio spectrum set aside for military use.
“If this were a real astronomical source, it would be rather strange,” Mr Suntzeff said.
“God knows who or what broadcasts at 11Ghz, and it would not be out of the question that some sort of bursting communication is done between ground stations and satellites.
“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.”