Posted on Saturday, 28 November, 2020
The famous ‘Wow!’ signal. Image Credit: Big Ear Radio Observatory / NAAPO
An amateur astronomer has pinpointed the most likely star system from which the signal may have originated.
Astronomers have been listening out for extraterrestrial signals for years, but one case – that of a strange signal picked up by a school telescope at Ohio State University 40 years ago – has since remained one of the most tantalizing and perplexing examples ever recorded.
Originating in the globular cluster of M55 in the constellation Sagittarius, the peculiar signal lasted approximately 72 seconds. Astronomer Jerry Ehman, who was the first to examine the computer readout, famously wrote the word ‘Wow!’ on the page.
Back in 2017, astronomers headed up by Antonio Paris from St. Petersburg College, Florida, determined that a passing comet may have produced the signal, but now amateur astronomer (and UM forum member) Alberto Caballero believes that he has an alternative explanation.
If this was in fact an intelligent alien signal, he argued, then it is most likely to have originated from an Earth-like extrasolar world orbiting a Sun-like star.
By searching the Gaia database (which contains data on 1.3 billion stars compiled by the team at ESA’s Gaia observatory), he was able to pinpoint the most likely candidate – a star with the rather uninspiring name 2MASS 19281982-2640123 which is almost identical the the Sun and is situated in the area of the sky where the signal originated.
While there’s no guarantee that the signal did come from a planet around this particular star, it does paint it as an interesting candidate for further study in the coming years.
Who knows, perhaps there really is someone there attempting to communicate with us.
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