Astronomers have discovered the strongest candidate to date for an alien signal. Researchers from the Breakthrough Listen Project found in an unusual radio beam coming from our closest star, Proxima Centauri, according to a report The guard on December 18th.
Any alleged discovery of aliens must always be viewed with skepticism. This is especially true in cases where a signal appears to be a possible techno signature, a sign of alien technology and not just life. The Breakthrough Listen team was extremely careful with their find. “Nobody claims it’s a techno signature,” tweeted Pete Worden, chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
In fact, the researchers don’t say much about it at all. The news of the signal came to light from a researcher he was speaking to The guard Before the scientific paper was published, the data analysis was still ongoing, so no one could know exactly what this strange radio beam is. So far we just know that it’s weird.
“The Breakthrough Listen team has discovered several unusual signals and is carefully investigating them,” Worden tweeted. “The strongest and most tenacious are all from Proxima.”
The team discovered multiple signals while examining data collected by the Parkes Observatory in Australia during a search for star flares from Proxima Centauri in 2019. Almost all of the signals identified as potential alien beacons by Breakthrough List algorithms came from man-made technologies such as satellites – with one exception.
This strange signal lasted for about three hours and was concentrated in a very narrow range of wavelengths – an area not generally used by human satellites and spacecraft. It was the first signal to go through the first round of breakthrough list reviews, the primary purpose of which is to weed out signals from Earth. The researchers named it Breakthrough List Candidate 1 or BLC1.
Worden cautioned, however, and stressed that the Breakthrough Listen team believes that these signals are more likely to be radio interference from terrestrial technology than contacts with an alien civilization. Any previous signals the team detected were quickly explained in the first round of Breakthrough Lists testing, but they need to do additional checks that they have never used before on this new signal, says Jason Wright of Pennsylvania State University. The researchers are now doing these checks.
If it really is a signal from Proxima Centauri, it is interesting not only because it is the closest star in our solar system only 4.2 light years away, but also because we know it has at least two planets.
“Proxima is neat too because some people have speculated that sending the signal directly is a pretty inefficient method when there is a lot of technology in the galaxy and you want to communicate over long distances,” Wright says. “It’s like my cell phone isn’t sending your phone a radio signal when I call you on the phone.”
The idea is that advanced aliens are more likely to set up a network that resembles an interstellar cellular network, with many interconnected nodes relaying messages across the galaxy. “If extraterrestrial civilizations did this, we wouldn’t expect many signals to be received from distant stars, we would expect them to be found from nearby stars,” he told Wright.
We’ll know in the next few months whether BLC1 is just an earthly disorder after Breakthrough Listen researchers conducted further tests and officially published their research. Even if the signal wasn’t from a spaceship, astronomers will go through many other possible explanations before concluding that they are aliens. You will keep an eye on our next star.
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