This Study Suggests Aliens Could Exist & Strong Radio Signals Are Coming Our Way
Cue the fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, and any other extraterrestrial sci-fi movies, TV shows, or books. What you've been dreaming of might just be a reality. There's an article that some are pointing to as proof that life might exist on faraway planets. But don't get too excited, as there's plenty of people who see it as totally normal — or at least probably not beings from outer space. So, what is this study that talks about aliens?
Technically, it didn't talk about aliens at all. It was first reported by Paul Gilster for Centauri Dreams and it has to do with radio signals. A RATAN-600 radio telescope in Russia detected "a strong signal in the direction of HD164595," Gilster wrote, referencing a star in the constellation Hercules about 95 light years away. "No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study." Apparently the signal was so strong that the international team of researchers who run the radio telescope have focused it on the area.
Those few sentences were enough to spark loads of articles and commentary on the issue. Even CNN has interviewed astronomers that point to extraterrestrial life being the explanation. "The signal from HD 164595 is intriguing, because it comes from the vicinity of a sun-like star, and if it's artificial, its strength is great enough that it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind," astronomer Douglas Vakoch told CNN. He's the president of METI International, a group that searches for extraterrestrial life.
But any early reports might be overblown. Texas A&M astronomer Nick Suntzeff suggested it could be from interference here on Earth given its frequency. "God knows who or what broadcasts at 11 GHz, and it would not be out of the question that some sort of bursting communication is done between ground stations and satellites," he told the website Ars Technica. "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."
SETI stands for "search for extraterrestrial intelligence." Those who study this like Vakoch have a plan in place to determine whether the original signal was legitimate. He explained how it works to GeekWire:
Standard SETI protocols call for confirmation of possible signals from a separate observatory. This helps ensure that the original signal didn't arise from a technical glitch in the original observatory, and it helps rule out a hoax perpetuated by some enterprising graduate students targeting a SETI experiment.
In the past, plans for SETI follow-up observations have focused on confirmation of the original signal, seeking a repeat signal at the same frequency. That's a critical step for confirmation – and we don't yet have evidence that this sort of follow-up has happened for HD 164595.
It's odd that this hasn't happened yet. The first signal was recorded in May 2015. Now with the added attention, further observation is certainly in the works around the globe, such as in San Francisco. If that turns out to be something, it might be time to start phoning home. Otherwise, don't place your bets on aliens just yet.