The search for extraterrestrial life in deep space just got a lot more interesting. The SETI institute has announced the detection of a “strong signal” coming from the direction of a star which was previously recorded to be emitting radio signals. SETI hasn’t yet formally announced the finding of this mysterious radio signal, but Centauri Dreams author Paul Glister claims to have received news of the finding directly from Italian SETI astronomer Claudio Maccone.
The powerful 11 GHz signal appears to have originated from the star HD 164595. This star lies roughly 95 light years away in the constellation Hercules. HD 164595 is a relatively old star, estimated to be 6.3 billion years old, and has a chemical composition nearly equal to our Sun.
According to Centauri Dreams, this solar system has at least one planet similar to those in our solar system:
A known planet in this system, HD 164595 b, is 0.05 Jupiter mass with a period of 40 days, considered to be a warm Neptune on a circular orbit. There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system.
The signal was detected in May 2015 by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia near the Georgian border. According to the presentation forwarded to Glisner, the probability of this signal being noise is very low, meaning the signal probably has a more curious origin:
The estimated probability ~2 X 10-4 to simulate the signal from the direction of the HD164595 by signal-like noise is small, therefore HD164595 is good candidate SETI. Permanent monitoring of this target is needed.
Glisner at Centauri Dreams is quick to note that despite the tantalizing nature of this signal, conclusions should not yet be drawn about its source:
We can’t claim the detection of an extraterrestrial civilization from this observation. What we can say is that the signal is interesting and merits further scrutiny.
So, while this news might not be a game-changer yet, it could have the potential to mark the discovery of the first known artificial radio signal in space. Hopefully, this signal won’t disappear forever like the infamous “Wow! Signal” that has puzzled astronomers for decades. Stay tuned to MU for more HD164595 news as SETI releases it.