Monday, August 29, 2016

SETI researchers hopeful about radio spike.

SETI researchers are buzzing about a strong spike in radio signals that seemed to come from the direction of a sunlike star in the constellation Hercules, known as HD 164595.

The signal conceivably fits the profile for an intentional transmission from an extraterrestrial source – but it could also be a case of earthly radio interference, or a microlensing event in which the star’s gravitational field focused stray signals coming from much farther away.

In any case, the blip is interesting enough to merit discussion by those who specialize in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI – including Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster, who brought the case into the public eye this weekend.

At least two SETI research groups are aiming to track HD 164595 tonight. The SETI Institute is using the Allen Telescope Array in northern California, while METI International is looking to the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama.

Gilster reports that the signal spike was detected more than a year ago, on May 15, 2015, by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya. That facility is in the Russian republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, not far from the Georgian border.

The apparent source of the signal, HD 164595, is interesting for a couple of reasons: It’s a sunlike star, about 95 light-years away from Earth, and it’s already known to have at least one “warm Neptune” planet called HD 164595 b. “There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system,” Gilster says.

1 comment:

Allen Pogue said...

Every year that goes by is an argument against SETI. To accommodate this, SETI researchers recently revised upwards their estimate of how long it would take to find another civilization. This process of moving the goalposts can be repeated infinitely and is asymptotic to success. They will probably never achieve success, because we are probably alone. An alternative interpretation is that radio signals are something not commonly used among advanced civilizations but I'm not ready to buy into that.

I think there is a possibility of microscopic life elsewhere, but I agree with Fermi, the failure to find aliens probably means there aren't any. If they ever existed, they should have been easy to find, and we would know about them already.


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