Space scientists observing a distant dwarf star in the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico recently reported picking up strange radio pulses between April and May this year. According to reports, the scientists observed strange signals emitted by Ross 128 (GJ447), around 11 light years away, on 12 May at 1.53 a.m. (BST). Ross 128 is a small red dwarf that is the 12th closest star to Earth. The red dwarf is 2,800 times dimmer than the sun, and does not have a planetary system that revolves around it.
According to experts, the star was observed for 10 minutes and emitted signals that were almost periodic in nature. The researchers inferred that three explanations may shed light on the mysterious signals that were received. The scientists theorized that one cause of the strange signals was a series of solar flares that the star emitted. Another probable cause was emissions from another object that was in the field of view of the red dwarf. A third explanation has something to do with space debris. According to the researchers, space junk or stray satellite might have collided with the radar.
“We believe that the signals are not local radio frequency interferences (RFI) since they are unique to Ross 128 and observations of other stars immediately before and after did not show anything similar. Therefore, we have a mystery here and the three main explanations are as good as any at this moment,” astrobiologist Abel Mendez said.
“The SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] groups are aware of the signals. The field of view of [Arecibo] is wide enough, so there is the possibility that the signals were caused not by the star but another object in the line of sight… some communication satellites transmit in the frequencies we observed,” Mendez stated in a separate article on The Daily Express website.
However, the researchers did not dismiss the idea that the strange signals might be extraterrestrial in nature. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California, confirmed that they were aware of the signals. According to Shostak, the institute hopes to use the state’s powerful Allen Telescope Array to check the signals.
The recent report was only one in a slew of mysterious space signals reported in the past. In October of last year, a duo of astrophysicists from Laval University in Quebec also reported spotting mysterious light signals coming from 234 different stars in our Milky Way galaxy. However, the researchers noted that additional observations are warranted to confirm the findings.
“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis,” the researchers told Space.com.
Outside experts were skeptical about the possibility of the observations. Seth Shostak said it was highly unlikely that all 234 separate alien societies would emit similar signal simultaneously. However, Shostak noted that the stars cited by the Canadian astrophysicists were worthy of follow-up investigation. (Related: European Governments Launch Project To Confirm Presence Of Alien Life.)