A Russian radio telescope detected a strong signal coming from outer space on Monday. The SETI device has been scanning the heavens for signs of extraterrestrial life. Now it finally appears it made contact, but it’s still unknown with who or what.
Even though it has triggered tremendous interest among the scientific community, no one has claimed yet this is the work of an alien civilization. But the signal is certainly worth further study, according to Paul Gilster. He is the author of the Centauri Dreams website which covers research on deep space exploration.
The signal came from a star called HD164595. It’s located about 95 light-years from Earth and is known to have at least one planet. It could have more, though. Experts say it’s too early to know for sure what the signal means and from where it exactly came.
SETI’s strong signal made public
The signal’s strength has made RATAN-600 researchers demand permanent monitoring. Gilster claims that if the message came from an isotropic beacon, it probably means that a Kardashev Type II civilization sent it.
If instead, it’s a narrow beam signal focused on the Solar System, then a Kardashev Type I civilization could be behind it.
Proposed by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964, the Kardashev scale measures a civilization’s technological level based on the amount of energy it can use for communication. The scale has three designated categories: Type I, Type II and Type III.
Type I civilizations can use and store energy that reaches its planet from the neighboring star. They are closer to the technological capabilities of Earth’s civilization. Type II can exploit all of their sun’s energy, while Type III can control the power of their entire host galaxy.
Gilster revealed the story on August 27
The discovery is expected to be a topic of discussion at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on September 27. However, Gilster has already seen a presentation about it from Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone.
Maccone coincided with RATAN-600 researchers and said the target signal needs permanent monitoring. Meanwhile, Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff that the 11Ghz signal got detected inside a military radio spectrum.
Therefore, the SETI signal may well be military instead. According to Suntzeff, it could be communication between ground stations and satellites. So he thinks that fellow astronomers shouldn’t celebrate just yet because it would be strange if the signal it’s, in fact, a real alien civilization trying to make contact.