Over the weekend, news broke about a group of Russian scientists that picked up a strong signal being transmitted from outer space. The four second signal was spotted on May 15th 2015 by the RATAN-600 telescope but has only now been made public by Interstellar Space Reporter Paul Glister. International institute the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is now examining the signal and its point of origin.
The source of the signal is possibly the most interesting aspect of the discovery. It is thought to have originated from HD-164595, a star system about 94 light years away from Earth. The system is known to contain at least one planet, roughly the size of Neptune and orbiting too close its central star to support life as we know it. However there is always the possibility of more undiscovered bodies within the system. Furthermore the signal itself is completely novel to most researchers “The signal from HD 164595 is intriguing, because it comes from the vicinity of a sun-like star, and if it’s artificial, its strength is great enough that it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind,” said the President of the Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) program Douglas Vakoch to CNN.
According to the Kardashev Scale which measures the scientific and technical capabilities of a civilisation this signal is so powerful that it would have to originate from a Type II planet, meaning they have the ability to harness the power of an entire star. Our planet is estimated to be a Type 0 at the moment so if this is indeed contact from another life source we should all be very worried right about now.
However the fact remains that this signal could be an infinite number of things, interference from a passing satellite, a technical error or even something as mundane as a spark from a telephone wire disturbing the radio frequencies. This combined with the fact that it was seen only once on a single telescope and by a team that neglected to bring it to public knowledge for over a year makes the whole situation highly suspect but SETI researchers agree it’s still worth looking in to. This could either be another case of over eager researchers hoping to crack the Fermi Paradox or a real step towards the next phase of human history, either way the reality is that the final frontier of space is now looking closer than ever.
Featured Image Courtesy SETI