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Star Where the Mysterious ‘WOW!’ Signal Originated May Have Been Identified

There are few, if any, possible alien civilization signals more infamous than the so-called ‘Wow!’ signal – a mysterious blip picked up by Ohio State University astronomers using the Big Ear telescope that was so strong, one of them wrote “Wow!” in red on the printout. The signal has never been picked up again and numerous theories for it have been proposed – from comet gas to aliens – but none have been proven. That may have changed this year when an amateur astronomer, who started with the premise that it was an alien transmission from ETs similar to us from a star similar to ours, found a star nearly identical to our Sun exactly where the signal seemed to originate from. Drop the mic and say “Wow back at ya!”?

“In this paper it is analysed which of the thousands of stars in the WOW! Signal region could have the highest chance of being the real source of the signal, providing that it came from a star system similar to ours.”

In a paper published in, amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero, a founder of The Exoplanets Channel on YouTube, describes his quest to find the source of the ‘Wow!’ signal which was detected on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State’s Big Ear Radio Telescope in Delaware, Ohio, which recorded a strange 72-second signal on a paper printout. That paper was analyzed by astronomer Jerry Ehman, who was so astonished by its strength that he circled the data and wrote the now famous “Wow!” comment next to it. While the Big Ear radio telescope is long gone, in has been replaced by others, including the ESA’s Gaia space observatory, whose mission is to map the position, distance, and motion of billions of stars, including those in the area where the signal seemed to emanate from. That’s the data Caballero used to test his theory that, if it was from intelligent life, it would be from a star like ours.

“A total of 66 G and K-type stars are sampled, but only one of them is identified as a potential Sun-like star considering the available information in the Gaia Archive.”

That star with the identical temperature, radius and luminosity as our Sun is 2MASS 19281982-2640123 the Sagittarius constellation, 1800 light-years from Earth.

So 2MASS 19281982-2640123 has an exoplanet just like Earth with an intelligent civilization just like us sending signals to the star it has determined has a planet just like theirs. Bingo. Case closed. Drop the mic. Right?

“Another 14 potential Sun-like stars (with estimated temperatures between 5,730 and 5,830 K) are also found in the region, but information about their luminosity and radius is unknown.”

Caballero may be an amateur, but he’s an honest scientist. He points out that 14 other stars are close but no ‘Wow!’ cigar … yet. However, the data is stronger than that found in any other searches for the origin of the “Wow!” signal – including the 2017 study which linked it to comets 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) which are surrounded by large hydrogen clouds known to produce a signal in the same frequency as the ‘Wow!’ signal and were in the same area on August 15, 1977. That sounded interesting at the time, but now 2MASS 19281982-2640123 sounds like it’s a stronger case – with the possibility of proving the existence of an ET civilization.

‘Wow!’ or ‘Wow?’? The search continues.


Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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