The potentially alien signal recently discovered by astronomers was actually caused by an old Soviet military satellite, Russia’s state-run news agency TASS confirmed Wednesday.
“We, indeed, discovered an unusual signal,” Alexander Ipatov, Director of the Institute of Applied Astronomy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told TASS. “However, an additional check showed that it was emanating from a Soviet military satellite, which had not been entered into any of the catalogs of celestial bodies.”
Russian scientists with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) discovered the signal in May, 2015, with the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Russia supposedly coming from the star HD 164595. The astronomy blog Centauri Dreams obtained a document from SETI that confirmed the signal. The blog also obtained a presentation of the study that will be presented at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).
“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,” reads the presentation obtained by Centauri Dreams. “Permanent monitoring of this target is needed.”
Scientists originally believed that if the signal had actually come from the star, creating it would have taken more power to generate than humanity will be capable of producing for the next 100 to 200 years.
HD 164595 was considered a relatively good candidate for an alien civilization as well. The star is similar to the sun, but 1.8 billion years older, and other scientists have already confirmed that there’s at least one planet orbiting it. HD 164595 is a mere 95 light years away from Earth, in the constellation Hercules.
This is not the first time astronomers have suspected that stellar oddities were caused by aliens. In 1967, a graduate student in astronomy found a pulsing radio signal so predictable it seemed to be a sign of intelligent life. The astronomers even nicknamed the signal LGM-1, for “little green men.” They believed they had detected a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, but it turned out to be the first pulsar.
However, recent research and discoveries indicate that alien life probably does exist elsewhere in the universe. Scientists not involved with the discovery previously estimated that the odds of humanity being the only civilization in the universe are less than one chance in about “10 billion trillion,” and that there have been roughly 10 billion alien civilizations in the history of the universe.
Using a simplified version of the famous Drake Equation, the scientists concluded that the number of advanced alien civilizations in the universe is equal to the number of habitable planets multiplied by the likelihood of a technological species developing on one of these planets.
Scientists found possible evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization last October, when astronomers with Yale University and other top schools published a study that used NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to examine the star KIC 8462852. What astronomers found astounded them: The star had light patterns that were consistent with large orbiting masses that blocked out some of the star’s light.
“We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to,” Ben Montet, a Caltech astronomer who co-authored the study, told Gizmodo. “None of the considered phenomena can alone explain the observations.”
The dense formations near KIC 8462852 are similar to “Dyson Spheres,” hypothetical, energy-harvesting megastuctures aliens could build by rearranging their solar system. Scientists have pondered the existence of Dyson Spheres since the 1960s, thinking they could be a potential solution to energy problems faced by an extremely old civilization. SETI scientists have long argued humans could detect distant alien civilizations by looking for technological artifacts orbiting other stars.
The masses near KIC 8462852 aren’t consistent with its age, leading scientists to believe they appeared around the star fairly recently. KIC 8462852 is only 1,481 light years away from Earth, but is not visible to the naked eye.
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