Last fall, a Sofia Sheikh’s colleague sent a message to his Slack group, which included members of the group Back Listen Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) collectively talks about radio telescopes that are being monitored to detect communication signals from space. Much of what he has studied so far has been identified as a result of the disruption of the Earth’s radio, human-made technology and the tools that produce information on the frequency with which scientists study. But one seemed more reliable.
The message was sent by a student studying a radio telescope that was originally taken to illuminate a supernova explosion produced by the star Proxima Centauri. He picked up one strange sign and the Sheikh did not know what to do. “It had a lot of things that we associate with a sign from space,” he says. The signal found around 982 MHz, called “blc1” meaning “Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1,” caught their attention from the start, as it came from a telescope-trained telescope close to ours, which may be inhabited by humans. And it appears narrow in electromagnetic form, meaning that it is technically designed. But amen skills?
In collaboration with other astronomers, Sheikh and his team set out a series of experiments on signature — radio waves measured at varying degrees that appear on top of ubiquitous noises, such as low-frequency, distinct static radio. They wanted to know if the sign was moving in the same direction as something in the sky, and they compared it with the interference of a radio station at other times. And in two new education published this week in a magazine Nature Astronomy, They spread false news: It was a false warning. The remarkable sign did not come from space, but came from Earthling technology, like the others.
“This was the most reliable sign we have ever received with the Breakthrough Listen project,” says Sheikh, a astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of one of the papers. But, he says, their year-round willingness to learn the amazing symbol and understanding that came from “was the most exciting research in my career so far,” and has helped scientists develop their tools in preparation for analyzing future indicators.
The Breakthrough Listen program, which began in 2015, uses radio telescopes in Australia, West Virginia, and California to listen to what can happen from nearby stars as part of a continuous search for foreign developments. Because it can be competitive and make time on a radio telescope, which sometimes involves “returning” to the facts of others, so that they and other astronomers benefit from the same.
Proxima Centauri seems to be the ideal candidate for exploring extraterrestrial life. The star is “only” a little over four light years long, or about 25 quadrillion kilometers, away from Earth. That is close, from nature, and a distance to send a message from an intellectual life. In 2016, astronomers confirmed the existence of a the world around the stars, fostering the prospect of being hospitable to strangers. If that’s when someone sends a space mission to another star, that’s the destination. Then, Fight Starshot seeks to create a powerful laser beam to chase a high-speed submarine to one of its star neighbors, Alpha Centauri, to take pictures and send them home. (Both Breakthrough Listen and Starshot are sponsored by billionaire and philanthropist Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Initiatives.)