Skip to main content

Are aliens trying to contact us? Signals from faraway star have experts buzzing

hd164595 signal not aliens russian scientists ratan 0 1
Russian Academy of Sciences
The astronomy community is once again abuzz over the potential for alien life, this time due to signals detected by a Russian radio telescope that seem to be emanating from a star about 95 light years away from Earth. The signals appear to originate from the area near sun-like star HD164595, which is known to have at least one planet.

Russian astronomers first detected the signal on May 15, 2015, reports indicate. According to space journalist Paul Gilster, while no one is yet ready to claim that this signal has alien origins, it at least is warranting further study. Those behind the discovery plan to discuss it further at a SETI committee meeting in Mexico late next month.

Related Videos

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

The Kardashev Scale is a method developed by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. Type I civilizations are able to harness and store a large amount of energy from its neighboring star — something we humans are very close to doing ourselves. Type II civilizations, however, can harness the entire power of a star — think a Dyson’s sphere — something humans may be as far as 10,000 years away from being able to do, according to popular physicist Michio Kaku.

If such an alien civilization was trying to contact us, there’s a chance that they’d focus a narrow beam directly at us, and it wouldn’t take too much more sophistication than our current society has to do so — but that also means they’d know we’re here. Pretty exciting stuff.

But as with any of these types discoveries, there’s a few caveats. As far as we know, this was a one-time occurrence. It also occurred at a frequency of about 11 GHz, which is used by the military. According to at least one astronomer, the frequency at which it was received does raise questions as to whether it might be interference from a terrestrial military source.

If it’s not interference and it’s not terrestrial in origin, it would be “rather strange” to come from an astronomical source, he said. Suffice it to say, we don’t know exactly what’s out there just yet.

Editors' Recommendations

Astronomers discover the biggest explosion in space since the Big Bang
massive galaxy cosmic yeti 05 1

Scientists have discovered the biggest explosion seen in the universe since the Big Bang. The explosion, which released five times more energy than the previous record holder, emanated from a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy hundreds of millions of light-years from Earth. It was powerful enough to punch a cavity in the super-hot gas surrounding the black hole large enough to fit 15 Milky Way galaxies lined up next to each other.

“We've seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive," Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, from the Curtin University node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research, said in a statement. “We don't know why it's so big. But it happened very slowly -- like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years.”

Read more
NASA’s newest Deep Space Network antenna will receive laser signals from Mars
Deep Space Network This artist's concept shows what Deep Space Station-23, a new antenna dish capable of supporting both radio wave and laser communications, will look like when completed at the Deep Space Network's Goldstone, California, complex.

This artist's concept shows what Deep Space Station-23, a new antenna dish capable of supporting both radio wave and laser communications, will look like when completed at the Deep Space Network's Goldstone, California, complex. NASA/JPL-Caltech

In order to communicate with spacecraft traveling millions of miles out into space, you need a very powerful communication system. You need something like NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN), a worldwide array of radio antennas which form the largest telecommunications system in the world. And with planned missions to Mars requiring even greater communications sensitivity, the Deep Space Network is getting an upgrade.

Read more
How SETI@home accelerated alien hunting with an army of armchair astronomers

On July 23, 1995, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp both had telescopes trained on the sky. Both noticed a fuzzy object that turned out to be a comet. Hale has a PhD in astronomy, but Bopp was borrowing a friend’s instrument. Because they’d spotted the object at about the same time, Hale and Bopp both had their names attached to the now famous comet.

There’s always been plenty of space for amateurs in the field of astronomy. While it’s often been solo star hunters or small societies, the SETI@Home experiment brought together millions of citizen scientists interested in learning if humans are alone in the universe.

Read more