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

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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.

“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.

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