SETI Telescopes Are Investigating a Weird Radio Signal from a Sunlike Star


Artist's render of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Image: ESO/M.Kornmesser Themenbild
Artist’s render of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Image: ESO/M.Kornmesser Themenbild
An unusual radio signal from a Sunlike star has prompted alien hunters to take a closer look at the system, located just 94 light years away.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

The 11 gigahertz radio burst, lasting two seconds, was picked up on May 15, 2015 by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, and was kept under wraps for well over a year. Until now.

Over the weekend, interstellar spaceflight expert Paul Gilster broke the news that a team led by astronomer Nicolai Bursov of the Special Astrophysical Observatory—and including famed Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) astronomer Claudio Maccone—has been analyzing the signal, and will be presenting findings at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on September 27.

“No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization,” Gilster cautioned, “but it is certainly worth further study.”

To that end, SETI has trained both its Allen Telescope Array in California and the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama toward the star, named HD 164595, which is within 100 light years of Earth, in the constellation Hercules—a cosmic stone’s throw away.

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