Astronomers watching for signs of extraterrestrial life have received a mysterious radio signal originating in the general area of Proxima Centauri – one of Earth’s closest neighbors.
Proxima Centauri is only 4. 2 light years from Earth and is also the closest star to the Sun..
The signal was received by astronomers at the Parkes Observatory in NSW during a 30-hour observation in 2019.
It was only identified a few months ago when researchers searched the data. The very narrow frequency of 982 MHz points to technological rather than natural origins.
The exciting discovery was only made public this week in news leaked to the British Guardian newspaper.
Scientific American reported that the signal cannot be dismissed as interference of human or natural origin, which means that it can be of extraterrestrial origin – a so-called « techno signature ». .
Proxima Centauri is also home to an Earth-like planet called Proxima b, which is the closest planet outside of our solar system.
The signal was detected as part of the 10-year Breakthrough Listen project founded in 2016 for $ 100 million ($ 131 million).
The project is based at the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center, in the institution’s astronomy department.
Breakthrough Listen is funded by tech billionaire Yuri Milner and led by Andrew Siemion, an astrophysicist at the University of California at Berkeley.
« It has some unique properties that have resulted in it passing many of our exams, and we can’t explain it yet, » Siemion told Scientific American this week.
The signal has been dubbed BLC1 or « Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1 » and is being analyzed for a paper due out early next year.
« It’s the most exciting signal we’ve found in the Breakthrough Listen project because we haven’t had a signal jump through so many of our filters before, » Penn State University’s Sofia Sheikh told Scientific American.
The organization’s senior astronomer Seth Shostak writes on the SETI website that Breakthrough Listen analysts will review any possible explanation for the signal, and will investigate many of them themselves.
« As long as we don’t know, we should continue to consider the alien hypothesis to be feasible, » writes Shostak.
“After all, any SETI discovery becomes difficult when we do it for the first time. There will be many calls for restraint to appease the over-eager.
« But it is to be expected that one of these suspicious signals will one day actually be the coveted proof of the intelligence of another world. « . ”
Proxima Centauri, star, Alpha Centauri, extraterrestrial life, search for extraterrestrial intelligence
World News – AU – Australian astronomers receive « unexplained » signal from the vicinity of the nearby « earth-like » planet
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