According to a new study, the mysterious flickering of lights that we sometimes see in the night sky could in fact be “interstellar communication lasers”.
Scientists continue to remain baffled as to what these short-lived flashes of light are, but they are not ruling out the possibility that they could come from aliens who are using lasers to communicate. However, the most plausible explanation is that the vanishing lights come from “natural, if somewhat extreme, astrophysical sources,” researchers from the University of Stockholm stated.
For their project called Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations (VASCO), scientists studied publically available images and data that date back to the 1950s. They studied over 150,000 flickering lights that have been seen in the sky and they found that at least 100 of them were behaving in a very odd manner – their flickering behaviors were very unpredictable and they even flared up to a thousand times brighter.
These erratically behaving lights are called “red transients” and have yet to be fully explained. One theory is that they are vanishing stars. “Finding an actually vanishing star - or a star that appears out of nowhere! - would be a precious discovery and certainly would include new astrophysics beyond the one we know of today,” stated project leader Beatriz Villarroel who is from Stockholm University and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain. Researchers have said that if they were vanishing stars, they would be examples of an “impossible phenomenon”.
As for them being dying stars, that seems to be unlikely as a star that is dying out either slowly turns into a white dwarf or it could go supernova.
Another possibility is that they are signals produced by aliens far away. In their paper that was published in The Astronomical Journal (and can be read in full here), researchers said that upcoming searchers may have to include “more exotic searches for evidence of technologically advanced civilizations”.
One more theory that doesn’t include aliens is that they could be very rare events that called “failed supernovae” which is when a huge star is sucked into a black hole with no explosion that’s visible.
Whether they’re alien communications or a more natural explanation, mysterious “vanishing stars” in the night sky continue to intrigue scientists and those who have witnessed them.