After 40 Years Of Study, Scientists Know Origin Of A Mysterious Space Signal


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A scientist claims to have debunked what’s considered the best evidence of intelligent alien life, presenting findings that an undiscovered comet produced a 1977 deep space radio signal.

An April study published by Dr. Antonio Paris from St. Petersburg College in Florida found that the mysterious signal likely came from a hydrogen cloud surrounding a comet.

Dr. Jerry Ehman first detected the 72-second “WOW!” signal through a radio telescope in August 1977. The signal was so bizarre and potentially alien that Ehman circled the signal on a readout and scribbled “Wow!” next to it because it matched no known celestial object.

Paris noted that the two comets “P/2008 Y2(Gibbs)” and “266P Christensen” had been in the same part of the sky as the “WOW!” signal. Paris discovered a similar radio signal when the comets reappeared in the night sky from November 2016 through February 2017.

The comets’ movements likely explains why scientists were unable to detect the “WOW!” signal in previous years. Paris points out the comets had only been discovered in 2006, and therefore were not accounted for during most searches for the “WOW!” signal.

Scientists previously thought the “WOW!” signal was some of the strongest evidence of a technologically-advanced alien civilization.

The signal was transmitted at a frequency that happens to be the same frequency as hydrogen. Scientists with the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) long suspected an alien civilization would use that frequency to transmit its location since hydrogen is the most common element in the universe.

Scientists often speculate that mysterious signals from deep space could be from aliens, but the source is often found to be some unknown stellar phenomenon.

In 1967, for example, a graduate student in astronomy found an usual pulsing radio signal predictable enough to be a sign of intelligent life. Astronomers nicknamed the signal LGM-1, for “little green men.”

Some believed that they had detected a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, but it turned out to be the first pulsar.

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