Astronomers Detect Mysterious Signals From Red Dwarf Star 11 Light-Years Away From Planet Earth
Astronomers who were studying red dwarf stars with planets using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have reported detecting strange signals emanating from a small and dim star located about 11 light-years from Earth.
Signals From Red Dwarf Star Ross 128
The radio signals, which were picked up on May 12 using the Arecibo radio telescope, appear to come from the red dwarf star called Ross 128. The star, which is about 2,800 times dimmer than the solar system's sun is not yet confirmed to have any planets.
Astrobiologist Abel Mendez, from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, said that the bizarre, "almost periodic" signals were picked up during the observation of the star that lasted 10 minutes.
The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) group is aware of the mysterious signals. SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak said that the Allen Telescope Array in California may be used to check the signals. Nonetheless, he said that these are likely terrestrial interference.
"The chances are high that they're terrestrial interference, in fact. That's really always been the case," Shostak said.
Are The Signals From Intelligent Alien Life?
The idea of alien life usually crops up whenever scientists detect bizarre or unexplainable signals from space. Some scientists, for instance, considered the possibility that the dimming of the Tabby's star could be explained by an alien megastructure orbiting around it.
Mendez thinks it is unlikely that the newly detected signals from Ross 128 is due to intelligent extraterrestrial life but noted that this possibility cannot yet be ruled out.
The astronomer said that the signals could be explained by something that humans have put in space, such as a satellite that passed overhead. Another possible explanation for the signal is a stellar flare, an outburst of energy from the surface of the star. Flares from the sun emit powerful radio signals that can disrupt satellites and communications on Earth.
"We do not know the origin of these signals but there are three main possible explanations: they could be (1) emissions from Ross 128 similar to Type II solar flares, (2) emissions from another object in the field of view of Ross 128, or just (3) burst from a high orbit satellite," Mendez wrote.
Astronomers said that each of these three possible explanations for the signals has problems so further observations will be conducted in the hopes that these could shed light on the nature of the radio emissions.