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An Interesting SETI Candidate in Hercules

A candidate signal for SETI is a welcome sign that our efforts in that direction may one day pay off. An international team of researchers has announced the detection of “a strong signal in the direction of HD164595” in a document now being circulated through contact person Alexander Panov. The detection was made with the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic of Russia, not far from the border with Georgia in the Caucasus.

The signal was received on May 15, 2015, 18:01:15.65 (sidereal time), at a wavelength of 2.7 cm. The estimated amplitude of the signal is 750 mJy.

No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study. Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization. If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization. The possibility of noise of one form or another cannot be ruled out, and researchers in Paris led by Jean Schneider are considering the possible microlensing of a background source by HD164595. But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target.


Image: The RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Here I’m drawing on a presentation forwarded to me by Claudio Maccone, from which I learn that the team behind the detection was led by N.N. Bursov and included L.N. Filippova, V.V. Filippov, L.M. Gindilis, A.D. Panov, E.S. Starikov, J. Wilson, as well as Claudio Maccone himself, the latter a familiar figure on Centauri Dreams. The work is to be discussed at a meeting of the IAA SETI Permanent Committee, to be held during the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016,

What we know of HD 164595 is that it is a star of 0.99 solar masses at a distance of roughly 95 light years in the constellation Hercules, and an estimated age of 6.3 billion years. Its metallicity is almost identical to that of the Sun. A known planet in this system, HD 164595 b, is 0.05 Jupiter mass with a period of 40 days, considered to be a warm Neptune on a circular orbit. There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system.


Image: Strong signal from the direction of HD 164595. “Raw” record of the signal together with expected shape of the signal for point-like source in the position of HD 164595. Credit: Bursov et al.

From the presentation:

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. Permanent monitoring of this target is needed.

All of which makes excellent sense. We can’t claim the detection of an extraterrestrial civilization from this observation. What we can say is that the signal is interesting and merits further scrutiny.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael C. Fidler August 27, 2016, 9:49

    “An estimated age of 6.3 billion years”, is there a list of the estimated ages of stars within 100 light years of Earth? What about stars that may of formed out of the same cloud as our sun. What stars are interlopers from distant orbits around the galaxy? This would make a very interesting article, to see what we are traveling with!
    “HD 164595 is a star of 0.99 solar masses at a distance of roughly 95 light years in the constellation Hercules, and an estimated age of 6.3 billion years. Its metallicity is almost identical to that of the Sun. A known planet in this system, HD 164595 b, is 0.05 Jupiter mass with a period of 40 day”

    • Andrew LePage August 27, 2016, 16:53

      After 4.6 billion years and a dozen and half-ish orbits around the galaxy, all of the stars the Sun was born with have dispersed over tens of thousands of light years if not over the entire galaxy. While there are almost certainly solar siblings within reach of our instruments and there are efforts to identify them, there are a lot more “interlopers” out there, as you call them.

      • Michael C. Fidler August 27, 2016, 21:42

        I mean I am actually looking for a list with these parameters listed for the stars within 100 light years, so has anyone found or made such a list up, especially with estimated ages?

      • Alan Clark August 28, 2016, 5:07

        The star HD 162826 is thought to be a sibling of the sun, 110 LY away and 15% more luminous.

    • Anonymous Commenter August 28, 2016, 7:41

      This paper, a survey of potential solar twin stars, estimates the age of HD 164595 as 4.5 billion years: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1312.7571.pdf

    • Mitch Crane August 28, 2016, 13:56

      *may have formed

      • Fizz August 30, 2016, 12:29

        I’m glad that bugged someone else as well.

  • Alex Tolley August 27, 2016, 10:21

    Has this signal been confirmed by other radio telescopes to rule out local sources?

    • Paul Gilster August 27, 2016, 10:28

      Not to my knowledge, Alex — at least I can’t find that in the material I’ve seen.

    • Pete Ackers August 29, 2016, 7:48

      Hi Alex, posting I have read on Facebook indicates they are planning observation of the area from 2 different telescopes.

      • Michael August 29, 2016, 12:09

        Yes, there was an observation last night, I believe from the Allen Radio Telescope Array, in California, and another Radio Telescope in Panama, although I am not sure when that observation will occur.

  • Daniel Högberg August 27, 2016, 10:52

    As Ellen Stofan said: “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade”. It may be that Tabby´s star and the signal from HD164595 is the beginning of this? I sure hope so, humanity needs to be united and start to see itself as ONE race – the race from the pale blue dot. We cannot continue squabbling about countries, black, white or purple skin, squabble about differences in sexuality, religion asf.. It will all become quite ridiculous when we start to see the grandness of the universe as we discover that we are truly not alone. Looking so much forward to that day.

    • Sean Delaney August 27, 2016, 12:44

      Wikipedia “On 31 August 1920 the first known radio news program was broadcast by station 8MK, the unlicensed predecessor of WWJ (AM) in Detroit, Michigan” (2016 – 1920) = 96 years. If they are 95 light years away they could have just started to try and contact us. Cue spooky music.

      • Scott Kardel August 27, 2016, 13:03

        But it takes 96 years for anything they sent to get to us, so that can’t be responding to any radio emissions from Earth, or at least if they did, we wouldn’t hear it until 96 years from now.

        • Jim Greenwood August 28, 2016, 18:24

          Could it be hypothetically possible to transmit radio signals through a worm hole? If they were advanced enough to create one could it be that it took 95 years for our radio signals to get there and then they have an advanced way of responding?

          • David Illig August 28, 2016, 21:49

            “Could it be hypothetically possible to transmit radio signals through a worm hole?” Sure. Happens all the time in science fiction. And that’s where it’s going to stay. Wishful thinking is not a foundation for scientific theory.

          • Emmett McMahon August 28, 2016, 23:15

            Hi Jim, I’m no scientist but that is a good ‘What if’ you brought up. Just as I am keying this in I had a quick thought, what if they are far enough advanced to have placed worm hole devices in various location in our Universe to trap and re-transmit non-natural signals in their look for other intelligent life ? Is that possible ?

            • scherben August 29, 2016, 14:08

              I’m no scientist either, but such speculations are little more than an ‘appeal to magic’. David’s reply above yours is eminently sensible. :)

          • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 14:34

            Good thinking!

        • einsteinsbagel August 28, 2016, 23:26

          unless their tech could violate time, then outgoing efforts make sense with no 96 year return path due to popping up through a wormhole.

        • EricSECT August 29, 2016, 7:30

          ….Unless this star is actually closer than 96 ly. Gaia data will resolve.

        • Anthony Borelli August 29, 2016, 10:31

          They can’t have watched “I Love Lucy” yet, but if their telescopes were a little better than ours, they might have seen city lights here on earth for the past few hundred years, at least. They could have been laying a beacon on us for quite some time.

      • Marshall Eubanks August 27, 2016, 13:16

        That is enough time to get there, but not to get a signal back. That would take another 95 years.

        • Alex Tolley August 27, 2016, 15:41

          Scott, Marshall. You are assuming that the outbound signal traveled to HD 164595 at c, on the basis of them receiving our signals. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if they had a monitoring probe in our solar system that sent the first signals back in an instant? Then they transmitted a directional beam back to us with radio waves that we can receive.

          Or alternatively, they did receive our signals but sent a new signal back to a probe that aligns with their star HD 164595 but is close by to our solar system. This probe then sends a signal to us.

          So Sean’s hypothesis, unlikely as it is, cannot be dismissed by an argument that assumes c as a signal velocity limit.

          Another possibility is that something happened on Earth before 1826 that was big enough to attract their attention. Perhaps the fires and bright lights of the Napoleonic Wars? A change in soot levels in our atmosphere as a result of the industrial revolution?

          I won’t get interested until this signal is both confirmed and that it can be shown to have some artificial features.

          • Marshall Eubanks August 27, 2016, 16:20

            If they can do FTL, why not respond instantly? Or, if you are going to wait, why wait 1/2 the round trip time (RTT)? There is nothing magic about that number. But, if you can’t do FTL, this is 95 years early.

            • Alex Tolley August 27, 2016, 20:11

              If they can do FTL, why not respond instantly?

              Good point. But this only works if the FTL probe is already local to us and can transmit radio signals. The one-way c latency applies if:

              1. their probe cannot transmit radio signals, just receive. ET may have to transmit from the homeworld. Or, the probe might be able to transmit but remain silent so as not to give away its proximity.

              2. Their probe is not initially local. ET must wait for signals, then send an FTL probe to our vicinity to broadcast signals to us.

              Both scenarios allow 1-way latency, rather than 2 or 0.

              • Neil Fletcher August 29, 2016, 2:58

                Tinfoil hats anyone?

                • Sebastian Xavier August 29, 2016, 8:25

                  “Tinfoil hats” implies some conspiracy theory or negative possibility. It’s just imaginative, unscientific wishful thinking. We’re all on the same side here.

            • Pelotard August 29, 2016, 11:12

              Because we don’t have the equipment to receive FTL signals.

          • TM Macauley August 28, 2016, 15:10

            If they noticed that our planet was warming and the atmosphere was changing in composition 95 years after 1826, and sent a signal, we would get it in 2016. That sounds strangely plausible.

            They’ll get a pleasantly early reply when they detect the 1950’s radar signals.

            • Jarhead August 29, 2016, 0:26

              too much of a coincidence that some arbitrary condition occurred exactly 95 years before our signal started its journey that took 95 years to reach them. especially as they decided to attempt contact with a technology they had no proof we could receive.

              • IG88 August 29, 2016, 11:55

                A reflection of ourselves perhaps.

              • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 17:50

                I would like to think we humans would also become interested in signaling before we had six sigma proof the ETI could receive.

        • Roger Wehbe August 27, 2016, 17:18

          They are hearing our broadcasts circa 1921.

      • Doug Loss August 27, 2016, 19:37

        Diffusion would make those radio signals virtually undetectable beyond perhaps 20 lightyears. To even be able to detect them would take antennae miles across. Now some of our radars might be detectable. But those didn’t begin transmitting till the 1950’s at the earliest.

        • Matthew Peterson August 28, 2016, 12:49

          A telescope “miles across”? You make the assumption that ET doesn’t have signal detection capabilities beyond ours.

          • Matt August 29, 2016, 11:31

            …and you make the assumption that they do..

      • Raimo Kangasniemi August 28, 2016, 1:55

        If a real SETI signal, then it would have been sent in 1920 and by then they could have been able to detect signs of industrial civilization’s effect on our atmosphere.

      • Mark Kidger August 29, 2016, 1:44

        Very low power indeed. Surely it is extremely unlikely that it would be detected by anyone. It’s like the TV signals of the 1936 Olympics: detecting them even from someone within our solar system would have been hard, let alone from nearly 100 light yeaars distance.

    • Lese August 27, 2016, 12:49

      Agreed on all points!

    • Keith Henson August 27, 2016, 14:35

      Unfortunately, “squabbling” seems to be in our nature, but we might be able to keep it switched off.

      A few million years ago, humans got organized enough that the large cats were no longer able to keep our numbers in check. After that, if humans overfilled an environmental niche, or the productivity of the niche fell, humans had to become their own predators. But as we know, predators don’t fight their own kind very often because it is a way to get killed. The genetic stakes have to be higher than the risk for fighting to pay off.

      There were such times, perhaps once a generation. As a result humans have a finely tuned evolved sense for when it was worth it to fight in the stone age. That carries over to today. It’s turned on by a perception of bleak future prospects and turned off when the perception looks good. If we want to keep humans out of war mode the average income per capita has to either be increasing or at least staying the same.

      I wrote this up so long ago that is has become somewhat accepted.


      It keeps me motivated to find ways to solve big problems like energy and CO2. http://www.htyp.org/DTC for a couple of animations about producing power satellites and why.

      • Harold Daughety August 27, 2016, 17:23

        Keith Henson, A couple of thoughts : modern street warfare is between bonded groups and kinship does not see to be a factor. An anthropology prof (in one of my few “non-technical’ electives) said early in the course that people meet, divide into tribes, and go to war. “War” may be sports team competition or turf battles in the inner cities. Soldiers fight and die for the squad or the company and not for the country back in the world which is not directly threatened, and only a direct threat is worth dying for. I talked at length with a younger friend who crawled under fire through a rice paddy to retrieve the squad radio from the dead radioman and call in an artillery strike on the enemy. His concern was to the squad. He was later crippled, in his belief, by a careless act of a new replacement who “couldn’t carry his weight.”
        On women in a resource -rich environment having fewer babies, maybe they take advantage of contraceptives simply because pregnancy, childbirth and neonatal care is a real pain and they wish to and can avoid it.

        • Keith Henson August 27, 2016, 19:43

          Re “modern street warfare,” evolutionary psychology is largely about the traits that emerged in the stone age. Back then, the bonding (for men) was statistically likely to be to closely related men. The modern world doesn’t much resemble the times when such traits were selected, but we still have them.

          On women having fewer babies, whatever the reason, we are lucky it happens. Keeping the population growth below the economic growth seems to be the only way to keep “war mode” switched off.

          • Lanika August 29, 2016, 8:38

            Human beings love their babies. In fact, those big brains of our species make for an extraordinaryly long childhood in animal terms. With that being said, the reason why we women are having less children is simple enough: less children are dying. Our grandmothers had 10 kids and if 3 became adults this was a good prospect. I have two children and zero fear that any of them will die of malnutrition or lack of proper hygiene etc. Violence and accidents are possibilities, not realities.

            The other reason is economical in nature. Raising a child today is very expensive. Housing, feeding, clothing and educating human beings has made it less affordable. So if we have the means we have only the children that we feel we can provide for. Having five children when you only have resources to care well for two leads to poverty and decline in ability to survive in the long term. So even if the five children survive the difficult childhood they will lack the same education, development and sense of security than children from smaller families. It’s counterintuitive. As I said, human beings are very attached to their progeny, mothers want to give their babies the best chances of success and survival, therefore having less children when raising children is expensive is very logical. Time is important too: quality time to give proper attention to each kid is a limited resource. This is why the average age between siblings is growing apart.

          • Terrance Goddard August 29, 2016, 14:37

            “we are lucky it happens”. Could you explain why? World population is shifting towards Africans and Middle-Eastern societies which currently are not at the forefront of cosmological research. It did not work out very well for Roman civilization either – when the Barbarians have more kids, they’ll simply dictate the terms of any future cultural and civilizational developments.

      • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 19:00

        Skimmed through your paper. Must look closer later, as it looks interesting, but I fear it may leave too much out. Through the early part of their lives boys make many of their friendships through fighting, and that must have a subliminal effect later (I loved it in Lord of the rings when two unfamiliar allied parties, swapped severe death threats, and later evil Wormtongue is just set free without question because too many had died, and knowing he is not friend material and so such threats are unnecessary)

        Also may other strange factors may be important such as the adoration of heroes on the opposite side, and the same people who area bomb civilians thinking targeted assassination is unconscionable.

        Going even further, imperfect information has a non-linear effect when combined with the first strike advantage. If human leaders are intelligent enough to understand this, then peace should an unstable state if information quality deteriate. In the modern would of survalence satalites it is too easy to forget this when examining past events.

    • Kevin Anderson August 27, 2016, 21:18

      It’s probably naive to think that finding possible evidence of life outside our solar system will change fundamental religious beliefs or limit nationalism/racism. But, it can’t hurt.

    • Christopher Winter August 28, 2016, 18:46

      I read that as forecasting the detection of life, but not necessarily intelligent life.

    • Ralllf August 28, 2016, 20:28

      What if an alien civilization was found that doesn’t support your political ideology of globalism? Your sentiment seems messianic – you wish for saviors from the heavens to make everything good.

      • jxxx mxxx August 29, 2016, 14:53

        yeah – I was starting to see a lot of that claptrap and navel gazing too. jeez. I would prefer a planet with 7 billion sovereign, self-empowered critical thinkers than 7 billion automatons singing kumbayah

    • Tom August 28, 2016, 21:35

      Not really. I prefer squabbling and variety to a homogenized humanity. We’d still be in some type of agri-serf technology if we all accepted some universal Kumbaya culture.

      As for the topic. Any alien intelligence will likely be millions of years in advance of our technology. They hold all the cards and will make the decisions about contact ( or not). We’d be like a monkey in an isolated tropical island to them. Thr monkeys dont know about tbe satellites used to zoom in let alone about all types of communication waves in th air.

    • Hans Starlife August 29, 2016, 4:02

      I agree with every word, Daniel Högberg! Fellow Swedish? Not so common views among Swedes today! As I see it, it’s not only those squabbles about differences which is the problem, but also the fact that it gets all the attention in the media and public debate – while news such as this hardly get noticed at all. I feel we Humans are like the ants in an anthill, running back and forth preoccupied with own little stuff, but failing to see what’s just beyond. I really want to change that!

    • Mark Fagan August 29, 2016, 4:38

      I don’t believe that E.T. News would stop wars here or greed or religion. Unless they came to conquer

      • EricSECT August 29, 2016, 7:33

        ET news…. Might not, at first. Hopefully in a generation or two some kind of cosmic destiny realization would sink in and unite us.

        • Chris August 29, 2016, 13:13

          Yes.. then we could go into space to kill the aliens. Hey, these eyes are in the front of our heads for a reason… if we’re not going to use the gifts that evolution has given us, then what’s the point? Other species are going to be just as warlike as us.. because to get off their rocks, they’re going to have to have evolved to compete and kill too.

      • jxxx mxxx August 29, 2016, 15:05

        Not sure why you would want to stop greed or religion? and most of the 20th century wars and death were a consequence and anti-greed and anti-religion. Lenin/Stalin: 30 million
        Mao: 60 million
        Hitler/Mousillini: 30 million
        Cambodia/The killing fields: at least 2 million, maybe 5

        Most of these murderers were atheists; there were fighting “greed” in the name of socialism. None were of the Abrahamic faith

        • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 15:16

          OK, time to interject our posting rules, which specifically rule out political and religious discussions here. Comments need to be on topic. Overall, the posting rules are these, found on the top page:

          “Centauri Dreams publishes selected comments on the articles under discussion here. Among the criteria for selection: Comments must be on topic, directly related to the post in question, must use appropriate language and must not be abusive to others. Civility counts. In addition, a valid email address is required for a comment to be considered. Centauri Dreams is emphatically not a soapbox for political or religious views submitted by individuals or organizations.”

  • Valerio Giomini August 27, 2016, 11:04

    Great news, following the recent indications about Proxima Centauri-b. Are we close to the solution of the Fermi Paradox?

    • DJ Kaplan August 28, 2016, 12:12

      When we confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life, which this isn’t, then we can move ahead.

  • Michael August 27, 2016, 11:55

    I hope it is not another ready meal microwave incident!

  • Roger Wehbe August 27, 2016, 12:38

    I so envision that one day

  • Jean Schneider August 27, 2016, 12:44

    Do not get excited too early.
    As I told Paul Gister and the authors of the IAA paper,
    a plausible standard explanation is the gravitational lensing
    of a background source passing behind HD 164595.

    • Giulio Prisco August 28, 2016, 1:18

      Wouldn’t a repetition rule that possible explanation out?

      Note that both explanations could be correct (an artificial signal amplified by gravitational lensing).

    • Raimo Kangasniemi August 28, 2016, 1:57

      How likely the chances of proving or disproving a background source are?

    • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 19:27

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t any ETI that advanced only a century or two beyond us know exactly when such lensing events occurred. I know its difficult for humans to comprehend, but spending a million dollars to contact we primitives might make sense, yet if the cost was a trillion they may have other priorities.

  • Marshall Eubanks August 27, 2016, 12:52

    The RATAN-600 is a transit telescope, subject to interference. That makes this source a lot like the WOW source at the Ohio State University Radio Observatory – in other words, the duration in the plot above is the time for the beam to sweep over a source.

    I believe that the 2 x10^-4 probability estimate is an estimate of how likely a random interfering source is to match the duration and shape of the beam.That is not that intrinsically low, whether it is really low or not really depends on the RFI background (i.e., the false positive rate). Also, interference from a sufficiently slow satellite would also match this (i.e., this probability does not apply to satellite sources).

    So, all that can be done now is to sit on the source and see if it re-appears.

    • Roger Wehbe August 28, 2016, 11:32

      “So, all that can be done now is to sit on the source and see if it re-appears.” Not necessary. If it’s a Type II or Advanced Type I there might be megastructures in orbit. We need a Kepler style mission in that direction.

      • John Lasheras August 28, 2016, 15:06

        A Kepler style mission for a 95 light year journey without good evidence sounds like a colossal waste of money. Even getting a probe to proxima b and have it send anything back will take forever.

        • Roger Wehbe August 28, 2016, 20:37

          Who said go there? A kepler style mission that looks for transits.. just look for exoplanets in that direction next mission.

          • Raimo Kangasniemi August 28, 2016, 22:28

            At least three space telescopes using transit method are going up in the next seven years.

            Data from Gaia might also help when it comes to this system…

  • Valerio Giomini August 27, 2016, 12:58

    We will see. But I want to hope that conventional explanations have already been explored (and maybe ruled out) by the researchers.

  • Marshall Eubanks August 27, 2016, 13:03

    This is why I favor a VLBI like approach to radio SETI. Suppose that another telescope, located a few 1000 km away, was observing the same spot of sky as the RATAN-600 with a similar (but not necessarily as good) sensitivity. Then you could set very stringent limits on any local interference, potentially (if you did it right) out as far as Cislunar space and beyond.

  • Brian McConnell August 27, 2016, 14:35

    It is a pretty safe bet that the Allen Telescope Array and Breakthrough Listen will add this target to a list for ongoing observation. Now that SETI has access to dedicated telescope time, it will be able to follow up on signals similar to the Wow signal. That said, I would put my money on a natural explanation or something like a radar reflection.

    • Paul Gilster August 28, 2016, 7:43

      I’m really interested in the microlensing possibility that Jean Schneider and team are investigating. Will keep an eye on where that leads.

  • Marshall Eubanks August 27, 2016, 15:04

    Assume that this is microlensing and the actual source is >> 95 light years. Then, the Einstein angular radius, theta_E, is ~80 nanoradians (17 mas). If the source was within ~ 1 Einstein radius of the star this would represent a physical alignment of ~5 AU (R / 1000 light years), where R is the distance to the source, and where this is the alignment required at the distance of the source, not the lens (HD164595).

    However, that will not produce a great magnification. Suppose that the magnification was a factor of 1000. In that case, u, the angular distance between the source and the star divided by theta_E, is ~ 1/1000, so the physical distance of the transverse alignment between the source and the star at the distance of the source, call it X, is

    X ~ 0.005 AU (R / 1000 light years) (1000 * u)

    In other words, for a magnification of 1000, the source and the star have to be aligned to within one one-thousandth of the Einstein radius, and it scales ~linearly with u (for small u). Typical transverse velocities in the galactic disk (if you don’t go too far away) are ~ 30 km/sec, so the duration of this high magnification period is ~ X / v or

    delta-T ~ 0.3 days (30 km/sec / v) (R / 1000 light years) (1000 * u)

    This shows that _rapid_ followup is very important in these cases; if it is microlensing, the peak magnification would likely last for at least hours, enough time to point another telescope at the source. (The largest magnification is set by diffraction; when u < ~1/20,000 (at 2 cm for a 1 solar mass lens) then this theory breaks down.)

  • Esteban August 27, 2016, 15:19

    Pfft, it’s a comet (again) for sure :(

  • Kent Gjemre August 27, 2016, 15:22

    Just to be able to finally put the issue to rest. No, we are not alone…just imagine how that clarifies a whole lot of questions. It would literally change everything.

    • javra August 28, 2016, 10:27

      What questions are you talking about?

      • IG88 August 29, 2016, 12:22

        The ones you’ve quit asking.

  • RAS August 27, 2016, 17:18

    The only way to verify these signals are repeats, signal occurrences are no use. If this happens again then we can start getting a little excited.

    • NS August 27, 2016, 18:58

      Assuming that there are SETI signals for us to detect, but that they’re not beacons or aimed at us deliberately, we may detect signals that meet most SETI criteria but don’t repeat. If this is the case we will be in doubt for a long time.

  • Abyssoft August 27, 2016, 17:30

    Ran stability calculation for the system and indeed there is plenty of room for a planet in the habitable zone with a mass between 0.5 and 4 Me with semi-major axis of 0.975 to 1.25 au and up to eccentricities of 0.3 and still leave the system stable over astronomical time. Given that the first planet around HD164595 planet b was only confirmed last year this is still a poorly understood system, leave the potential for c being int he habitable zone as a good possibility.

  • Tom Mazanec August 27, 2016, 17:43

    There are a LOT of these maybeSETI signals, starting with the WOW! Signal. Carl Saganin Pale Blue Dot told about eleven that had been observed in a pattern on the sky 99.5% likely to indicate that they were Milky Way sources.
    My personal favorite is TYC 1220-91-1 which had a frequency of about Pi*1420 MHz (we’ll know if exactly when GAIA results for that star are released).

    • Harry R Ray August 29, 2016, 9:44

      The Yale Catalog gave the distance to this star as approximately 100 light years, but, I have heard persistant rumors that it ACTUALLY is more like 1000 light years away, making the signal EVEN STRONGER than the one at HD164595! It would take a whole lot of telescope time to detect a planet orbiting a G dwarf star at that distance. THAT TIME SHOULD BE TAKEN! If any planets ARE found, THAT star should be constantly monitored by SETI scopes as well. Gaia’s distance calculation for HD 164595 should be available on September 24, and TYC-1220-91-1’s should be available a few years later.

  • Lawrence Calmer August 27, 2016, 23:28

    Some have commented about radio broadcasts starting in about 1920, however we can push back detection of electricity using technological civilization to about 1880 as there was considerable EM leakage into space from AC power lines in the 50-60 Hz region. Still not enough time for a 190 round year round trip, but it does get one wondering about systems within 60-70 light year bubble that might be able to detect us, how many stars systems are now being added yearly that theoretically could detect us?

    Still, even without radio leakage. Were there any clues we might be entering a technological era? How much had we altered the atmosphere by 1726? Was there any large scale non-natural chemical synthesis that could theoretically be detected? Detecting CO2 from coal or wood burning is probably not enough to indicate technology (as there are natural sources like forest fires that occur regularly). Could the Great Wall of China have been visible with truly gargantuan telescopes (or unknown technology) from 95 light years away. Perhaps they ping any and all life supporting planets on a periodic basis, no need for signs of technological accomplishments.

    I think it likely that our detection of ETI will be something that something that starts fuzzy, gets more and more certain, then explodes with the number of detections once we start devoting real resources to the search and know much better what are the better search strategies and EM regions to look in. Perhaps KIC 8462852 and now this source may be the tip of an iceberg of discoveries soon to come.

    • Wojciech J August 29, 2016, 22:40

      There have been plenty of unconfirmed detections actually like possible Dyson Spheres. One thing we could imply is that possible alien civilizations are vast and uncaring about our existence.

      • Harry R Ray August 30, 2016, 9:21

        If you have SPECIFIC names(or designations) please post them HERE. If this is true, then KIC8462852′ TRUE UNIQUENESS is that it’s the ONLY ONE in the PROCESS of being CONSTRUCTED!

  • Richard Shaffer August 28, 2016, 3:17

    From 1978-1986, I managed the acquisition of radio-astronomy data in JPL/NASA’s Deep Space Network. That included writing the draft Network Operations Plan for the NASA SETI Program. The most contentious issue we faced was agreeing on the steps ws would take if and when the DSN SETI System made a detection of a possible signal. The contention involved a protocol requiring that the detection be kept secret until at least two other widely-geographically-spaced r2adio-observatories could verify it. Clearly, THIS generation of radio-astronomers is unconcerned about secrecy, which I find appropriate, because my experience has always been that secrecy and Human Nature are incompatible. However, why has the group that made the detection not made arrangements for verification?

    • Paul Gilster August 28, 2016, 7:42

      It’s good to have you here, Richard. As to your question about arrangements for verification, I don’t have an answer to that. Maybe something will be announced at the IAC, where this will be discussed at the end of September.

    • Marshall Eubanks August 28, 2016, 14:28

      “The contention involved a protocol requiring that the detection be kept secret until at least two other widely-geographically-spaced r2adio-observatories could verify it.”

      That sounds very much like you were anticipating a beacon – a repeatable and obviously artificial signal.

      You make arrangements for verification for signals that repeat, like a pulsar – or a SETI beacon. Now, clearly (see my microlensing post) it would be good to have a system for rapid attempts at confirmation (the microlensing community does this – why can’t the SETI community?). However, if you see an anomalous blip like this, I see no need for secrecy. There are way too many cases of RFI, and it has been shown that potential SETI signals can be published without throwing society into mass chaos.

      • Marshall Eubanks August 28, 2016, 14:42

        In case it wasn’t clear, of course I think arrangements should be made for verification, as promptly as possible.

        I just don’t think that there is any need for any sort of elaborate secrecy in the case of the discovery of a candidate signal. I would favor the approach taken by the microlensing community, where the entire community is sent notification as quickly as possible.

    • Christopher Winter August 28, 2016, 18:57

      This is sheer speculation, but I wonder whether scientists in Putin’s Russia might have difficulty establishing cooperation with western colleagues in this field.


      • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:25

        My theory is that most professional astronomers still do not want to put aliens into the mix of potential answers unless all other possibilities are exhausted. While I do get the reasons behind this, I can only imagine with depressing dread what signals and other signs of ETI have been ignored (deliberately and otherwise) in past years because of our parochial and fearful thinking. Hopefully the events surrounding Tabby’s Star and now HD164595 will finally shift the paradigm, including for the SETI community.

      • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:56

        China has made it officially clear with their new giant FAST radio telescope that they want to be the first nation to detect a signal from ETI. Russia may have the same attitude, as they were once far more open and enthusiastic about SETI than the United States. That’s one reason why Sagan held one of the first big SETI conferences there in 1971. See the 1973 book from MIT, Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

        Given the ambitions of both China and Russia and their long cultural history of secrecy, it may indeed be difficult to cooperate on the SETI front, which could only mean that we all lose out in the end. Another good reason for better diplomatic relations between nations, because I am pretty sure that any ETI trying to contact other intelligences in the galaxy will neither know or care about our tribal squabblings.

  • RAS August 28, 2016, 4:32

    Hope this isn’t too OT topic but am I correct in thinking there is quite a bit of doubt for the comet explanation of the WOW signal?

  • SA August 28, 2016, 6:44

    Just to throw it out there. What if it’s our own signals bouncing back to us?

    • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:51

      From where? From what?

      • IG88 August 29, 2016, 12:20

        From space!

        • ljk August 29, 2016, 15:22

          Please be more specific, if possible.

  • Phil Ttnan August 28, 2016, 10:45

    Great catch as usual, Paul.

    I have a question for our more technically minded. In 1974 Drake and Sagan sent a message to the Hercules globular cluster, detailing a little snippet on our biology and physiology. From my back of the envelope calculation at around 30 parsecs there should be some considerable beam spread, so maybe by 2069 the message might reach this intriguing star. I’m sure I’ve made an error in the calculation – I know the beam was crudely collimated but certainly not coherent. Do the rest of you think that these improbable natives of the Hercules constellation might be able to pick up the message – or am I assuming too much beam spread?

    • Marshall Eubanks August 28, 2016, 14:37

      Arecibo is 300 meters diameter, and the message was at 2380 MHz or 12.6 cm, so the beamwidth (order lambda / D) was about 0.4 milliradians, or 1.4 arc minutes.

      The Arecibo message was aimed at M13 : 16h 41.7m and declination +36° 28′
      HD 164595 is at 18h 00m 38.894s and Declination +29° 34′ 18.92″

      That’s about 17 degrees in RA and 7 in declination, way, way outside the beam.

      • DJ Kaplan August 28, 2016, 18:02

        Speculatively, our signal could have been picked up by someone headed for HD164595.

      • Phil Tynan August 29, 2016, 4:14

        Thanks, Marshall. I got the wrong RA and declination for HD164595! This makes much more sense. That’ll teach me to read numbers off an unlined page.

  • S.Sadasivan August 28, 2016, 12:44

    The wavelength of the received signal is 2.7 cm. The number 2.7 is close to Euler’s Number (2.718281828459045235360287471352662497757…..), an important constant in mathematics. Prof. Claudio Maccone would surely note that ! Not 21 cm, not waterhole band but the constant ‘e’ for value of wavelength. Hallmark of mathematically sophisticated alien intelligence ?

    • Valerio Giomini August 28, 2016, 14:05

      Very interesting

    • Marshall Eubanks August 28, 2016, 14:20

      It’s 2.7 cm. That is not a special number as it has units. It can be made into any number you want, simply by changing the system of units in use – it is 1.063 inches, for example.

      • S.Sadasivan August 28, 2016, 23:32

        The inspiration is from ‘A NEW CLASS OF SETI BEACONS THAT CONTAIN INFORMATION’ (https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1211/1211.6470.pdf) by SETI Institute team. The paper discusses, among other matters, a large pulse signal detected by ATA at the ‘magic’ PiHI frequency of 4462.3 MHz the number
        (π times the neutral Hydrogen HI line of 1420.4 MHz).
        Another mathematically significant constant ‘Pi’ has been invoked in the paper to discuss the frequency of the pulse observed by ATA.

        • Michael T August 29, 2016, 13:57

          The frequency 4.4623 GHz is in some sense a “natural” one to select for as it’s a ratio between what is surely a universally used mathematical constant, and a “naturally” important frequency (the HI line, as you say) (NB it doesn’t matter what the frequency units are, just the ratio of the signal’s frequency to HI).

          2.7 cm is NOT a “natural” wavelength to select, as it’s using a man made unit that was arbitrarily based on the a fraction of the length of Paris’ meridian. 2.7 cm doesn’t mean a thing to someone from elsewhere using different units.

          Um, unless they know about the metric system :-)

          • S.Sadasivan August 30, 2016, 1:29

            In ‘The Black Cloud’, one of the finest science fiction novels ever written, the renowned astrophysicist (late) Sir Fred Hoyle uses one centimetre as the wavelength the vastly advanced Intelligent Cloud employs for communications. And as he says in his preface, ‘After all, there is very little here ( in what he has written in the book) that could not conceivably happen ‘. So, the mathematical constant ‘e’ is the ratio of possibly universally known mathematical number, we call the Euler’s number, and the signal wavelength (1cm) advanced beings use for communication ! Perhaps the aliens want to convey their understanding of a beautiful constant that represents the limit of an infinite series ! If we can contemplate alien megastructures to explain the bizarre light curve of KIC 8462852, why not similar license towards discussing RATAN – 600 received EM signal ?

            • S.Sadasivan August 30, 2016, 2:24

              Correction : That should read

              So, the mathematical constant ‘e’ is the ratio of the wavelength of RATAN received signal and the signal wavelength (1cm) putative advanced beings use for communication !

              • Michael T August 30, 2016, 14:34

                I just realised that if you take 2.7 and add a tenth (0.27) and a hundredth (.027) and so on, as a sort of geometric series, it becomes equal to 3 as the series approaches infinity.

                3 is my house number! It’s a message for me!!! :-)

          • Michael T August 30, 2016, 14:45

            Sorry, I meant to say:

            “….4.4623 GHz is in some sense a “natural” one to use as it’s IN the ratio OF what is surely a universally used mathematical constant (pi) TO a “naturally” important frequency..” (etc)

            Oh my….. anyway you know what I mean :-)

    • Eric August 28, 2016, 14:27

      Assumes aliens would use the metric system.

      • DJ Kaplan August 28, 2016, 18:05

        The signal’s wavelength was precisely 2.7 cm? You don’t think that was rounded up?

      • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:04

        And like classical Western music only. :^)

    • Piet August 28, 2016, 16:40

      I don’t think alien intelligence happen to work with centimeters…

    • hiro August 28, 2016, 20:20

      2.7 cm = 1 “ET inch” since the width of an ET’s thumb is a little bit bigger? ;)

      • Ergos August 29, 2016, 11:39

        well if they have feet it could be the same length as we have ?

        • hiro August 29, 2016, 20:58

          Obesity is normal in developed civilization, our developing civilization still needs more time to catch up!

          The only reason we receiving radio signal (if it were real) from outside this star system is the sender having intention to conceal the true capabilities. One wonders whether AM/FM radios still exist by 2500 AD or 3000 AD.

      • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 21:21

        Yes, 2.7cm means we should send the leader with the largest hands to greet them when they arrive.

    • Harry R Ray August 29, 2016, 9:51

      The two most important signals since the WOW, and they BOTH indicate possible transmission of BASIC MATHEMATICAL INFORMATION! Just one is a CO-INCEDENCE, two is a TREND, if the NEXT one were to do the SAME THING, that would be like hitting the jackpot!

      • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 15:01

        Someting to keep in mind, for sure.

    • Andy August 30, 2016, 6:18

      If someone, somewhere measures lengths in parrots, not centimeters – there will be no such correlation…..

  • Brian McConnell August 28, 2016, 12:55

    I would like to see NSF and other science agencies add a simple requirement to their grants that facilities they fund allow SETI equipment to piggyback on their primary observations. This is what Berkeley has been doing at Arecibo for years, and in most cases, there is no good reason for not doing so elsewhere. These telescopes would normally not be doing targeted searches, but if someone stumbled onto an interesting target, we would know quickly and could then do an intensive followup.

    It is interesting to note that the candidate signal was in 2015, meaning it probably sat in the data processing pipeline for some time before it was noticed. I expect that will be the case with a SETI detection, that someone will find something in archival data that is interesting but ambiguous, and then it takes time to get confirmation.

    It would be not surprising at all if active communicating sites cycle potential new targets periodically (but if the galacticinterwebpornotubes have been active for billions of years, its not like they will feel pressed to ping potential new sites every hour, so we might have to wait a while).

    • Raimo Kangasniemi August 28, 2016, 22:30

      The problem with that is politicians when it comes to NSF in the US. It doesn’t matter if it would be basically cheap science, they would still come up with “Wasting taxpayer money on aliens!” claims.

    • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:06

      This is pretty much what happened with the Wow! Signal of 1977: It was not noticed until hours later by an operator, and never found again since. It is 2016, there must be a better way to do these things now that SETI is finally being treated with some professional respect, or at least less disrespect.

  • peter August 28, 2016, 15:42

    I find it unlikely for the mentioned civilizations to put all their power into a radio signal. So therefore i think its likely a natural event.

    An advanced civilization would send out probes, who use entanglement to connect 2 places in space and send information. Entanglement as wormhole connections has been proposed before. Thus at best we found visiting probe in our own solar system. chances are dimm, since we currently cannot do this trick with our knowledge of QM..

    • DJ Kaplan August 28, 2016, 18:10

      I suggest that we have no way of knowing what any extraterrestrial “civilization” is interested in, or is capable of. We have a “sample of one” upon which to draw – such as it is.

      We are assuming that they are using the same assumptions re communication that we make: radio waves, two-way communications, humanoid lifespans, etc. If they use “entanglement”, all bets are off, since that – if it’s possible – is inherently secure.

      • Tom August 28, 2016, 22:06

        Yes, I agree. Radio, etc. signals seem primitive.

        However, one doesnt lose past forms of communication. If there was some newly found tribe on an island, we could study them remotely and send smoke signals or beat out drum messages to them. Some super advanced civilization could use some type of quantum communication… but, at the same time, still send out radio waves for ‘primitives’ to pick up. We wouldnt catch the attention of any lost tribe on the island by setting up a website and requesting them to add us as Facebook friends.

        • DJ Kaplan August 29, 2016, 12:29

          Anyway, although “entanglement” communication, if it is all that we assume it may be, it’s not something that we are equipped to detect.

          Optical signaling, yes, that is a more efficient means of communication than radio, for what it’s worth. And we are starting to look for that as well.

  • Valerio Giomini August 28, 2016, 17:34

    The more we investigate the Universe, the more we will find events pointing to ET intelligence (such as Tabby’s star). When will we accept the evidence that ‘we are not alone’?

    • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:07

      When we have actual scientific evidence.

      • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 21:46

        That statement oversimplifies it.
        Science relies on hypothesis testing, and the models that are preferred have the fewest parameters to fit. Since ETI has great freedom to behave differently than we may guess to model, it should be the last hypothesis that science looks to.

        Say, hypothetically, a scientist is totally convinced that a signal is artificial. Even then, it would still be unscientific not to continuing testing first for other simpler models of the very phenomena that have convinced him of its alien-made nature.

  • RAS August 28, 2016, 17:44

    Amazed to hear you have such certain knowledge of what an alien race would or wouldn’t do.

    Who’s to say this was aimed at us, for a start it could be a navigation beacon rather than communication of any sort.

  • Ron Walsh August 28, 2016, 18:32

    Considering the spectral class, mass,radial velocity, this one is quite interesting and certainly warrants follow-up observation in both the optical and radio spectrum.
    Probabilities are it is likely microlensing or a ‘natural occurrence’.
    However, the physical data of the star and 2.7cm wavelength has a tendency to make one turn his head for a protracted second look.
    One thing for certain, it will go in the same hat as proxima b and KIC 8462852 and (excuse the pun) HD 164595 may turn out to be the star of the show.

  • Christopher Winter August 28, 2016, 18:37

    This is extremely interesting, but some details apparently haven’t come forward yet. As I understand it the signal arrived on 15 May 2015 but was not identified until later when the data were processed. Is it known when that processing occurred?

    Also, I read the plot as showing the duration of the signal was roughly 2 seconds. Is that correct?

    I look forward to the IAC next month.

  • heteromeles August 28, 2016, 18:51

    Actually, the silly, unasked question is whether a research or military radar could produce the kind of signal that was seen?

    For instance, could we, by accident, be seeing spillover from a consortium radar-mapping their local asteroids? Are there equivalents of our terrestrial radar (especially from the Cold War) that would look like this, just by accident?

    The other question is about the power: I assume that’s calculated on the basis of something like a maser pointed directly at us?

    • EricSECT August 29, 2016, 7:47

      Agree, I’ve always considered an ETI radar sweep of local potential cosmic hazards to be more likely for us to detect than a beacon. Too many assumptions in a directed beacon. The bad thing about ETI radar pulses is unpredictable and very likely non-repeatable.

      • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:18

        The Arecibo Message of 1974 last a whole three minutes. Even if someone was in Messier 13 to detect it in 25,000 years time and they succeeded, the message did not repeat so if they follow science as we do, it will go into the records as an interesting but unverifiable signal. Or perhaps I am just underestimating the abilities of such aliens?

        Thankfully the RuBisCo Message sent from Arecibo in 2009 lasted for 1.5 hours and was aimed at much closer stellar targets. See here:


        and here:


        Hopefully the METI debate being organized by Breakthrough Initiative will lead to better organized messages sent into the galaxy with even better content:


        • DJ Kaplan August 29, 2016, 12:31

          ljk, that’s a very good point. We don’t repeat our rare signals, yet we expect ETI signals to be repeated.

          • Wojciech J August 29, 2016, 22:47

            We also don’t set up beacons to work for millenia uniterrupted ;) Something SETI assumes for granted.

      • Don August 29, 2016, 11:31

        If we were to spot a repeating ETI radar mapping beacon of the sort you describe, that would likely indicate a system with a significant defensive military infrastructure with respect to planetary attack. Finding an ETI system militarized at that scale would not be a good thing to see.

        The argument is that if a system has the tech and energy to do that sort of scanning, it probably also has the computational capabilities to not need to do it very often, so if they are scanning their local environment repeatedly it’s because they are worried someone might be moving their asteroids and comets for them. Why would someone be moving them for them? Because pushing a swarm of asteroids at your planet is the most energy-efficient way of staging a military attack at interstellar distances.

        Big defensive infrastructures are expensive to build and maintain, so spotting one tends to imply there are big offensive infrastructures out there as well. (And just to be clear, we haven’t spotted real proof of such a defensive infrastructure yet, but we should be aware of its significance if we do find one)

        • EricSECT August 29, 2016, 19:49

          Don wrote:
          “….If we were to spot a repeating ETI radar mapping beacon of the sort you describe, that would likely indicate a system with a significant defensive military infrastructure with respect to planetary attack…”.

          I don’t think radar sweeps imply that at all. Only that they are watching the skies for potential hazards because it is in their best interest, for the long term survival of their civilization. Even an advanced ETI wont be able to predict all the countless trillions of pieces of space junk to very great accuracy, as gravitational interactions between themselves and planets can make their orbits chaotic. You need periodic monitoring, real-time monitoring would be even better.

          • Don August 29, 2016, 20:18

            The chaos in orbital calculations definitely limits how far into the future one can predict

    • heteromeles August 29, 2016, 14:48

      To clarify, I’m not sure what the actual power of the signal was, since the graph seems normalized to 1.0. When they’re talking about Kardashev Type I, is the assumption that we’re looking at a 15 terawatt radar or maser pointed directly at us, or are we looking at spillover from something like the 10 megawatt Duga Radar (aka the Russian Woodpecker)?

  • ALLEN August 28, 2016, 19:37

    “It’s a cookbook…!”

  • hiro August 28, 2016, 20:24

    Probably this is a proxy from the ET Troll; Mr. Egan wrote a short story (Glory) which might change our thoughts about the “original” location of the signal.

  • Tom August 28, 2016, 21:55

    If one accepts some form of the Drake equation, there’s trillions of alien civilizations in the Universe. 99.9% either billions or millions of years in advance of our technology.

    I dont find any of it a mystery. We are at the cusp of Artificial Intelligence and all of its consequences. Some form of intelligent ‘whatever’ is probably going on at the quantum level…most likely at some existence independent of our concept of space/time.

    SETI has no downside, its cost is pennies. I support it. However, the answer to ‘aliens’ is more likely to be found in advances of sub atomic physics…not looking out into macro space. We’re on the cusp of this… 50 years? 500 years? The more we understand about reality, the more we’re a step closer to the ultimate cry of ‘Eureka’ .

  • JM August 28, 2016, 22:54

    We heard a brief spike signal… Nothing is known about its origin. That is all.

    • Ron S August 29, 2016, 10:00


  • Michael August 28, 2016, 23:00

    I am not sure if our planet is transit visible from HD 164595, but even if not it would still be possible for HD 164595 beings to scan G type stars like their own as we do for planets and EM signals. If ET found oxygen in the atmosphere of our planet they could have monitored it much closer, oxygen in an atmosphere is very rare. Now I am not sure what the trigger would be for ET to start transmitting a signal towards us, it was mentioned that a change in atmospheric characteristics could do it due to the onset of the industrial revolution, maybe.

    But the signal was only detected once, if they knew we were here or likely to be here they would have transmitted more regularly I would have thought. I suspect it is a micro lensing event.

    • Christopher Winter August 29, 2016, 13:34

      I agree with that criticism of the nearby probe hypothesis. Assuming an ETI probe that’s lain dormant but operational in our solar system, it would either maintain radio silence or transmit to us on a regular basis. It defies logic for it to send just one short pulse.

      • Alex Tolley August 29, 2016, 15:49

        Not a fan of Douglas Adams then. ;)

    • hiro August 29, 2016, 21:03

      The event in 1908 should be interesting enough, probably this is similar to FTL Neutrino case again; not sure how I feel about this since my main interest is all about what’s happening at the center of the Shapley Supercluster.

  • einsteinsbagel August 28, 2016, 23:07

    does this take into account Doppler shift? signal loss over time?

  • Robert K Johnson August 28, 2016, 23:26

    As pertaining to arguments of alien technoligy, let me respond as the anthropologist. I am reminded of the cautionary tale of the planet Venus at the end of the 19th century. It went like this: Venus is shrouded in clouds so from earth, you cant see the surface. From nothing the hypothysis followed…if there are clouds, it must be a stormy planet…if there are storms, there must be a lot of rain. Lots of rain make swamps and lakes. Swamps and lakes are teaming with life. Since life there must be primative, primative animals must live there. What kind of animals live in a primative swampy environment? Why its simple…Venus is populated with dinosaurs. At the turn of the ladt century many top astronomers bought into this pseudo logic. When I read about hidden radio receivers and wormhole transmittions, I can only conclude…we just did it again. Self delusion is the best delusion!

  • Darrell August 29, 2016, 0:46

    “We can’t claim the detection of an extraterrestrial civilization from this observation. What we can say is that the signal is interesting and merits further scrutiny.”

    So…you’re saying it’s aliens!

    Woohoo! I knew it!

  • Mark Kidger August 29, 2016, 8:13

    It’s like the “WOW!!” event. A big spike. Multiple follow-up observations of the región. Nothing ever heard again. It may never be explained.

    That’s the issue with these short spikes.

  • Mark Kidger August 29, 2016, 8:16

    There are ways to send a signal with a phase velocity much faster than light. The only problem is that they can send no information whatsoever so, totally useless!

  • Mark Kidger August 29, 2016, 8:51

    Most stars closer than 100 l.y. have pretty reliable data already. Remember that we had Hipparchos before Gaia.

  • Tony August 29, 2016, 8:54

    Was it narrow-band or broad-band?

  • RAS August 29, 2016, 10:04

    Haven’t seen this posted so far and it seems to contain a couple of updates, well at least they’ve bothered emailing someone in this case Doug Vakoch.


  • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:37

    Gerry Harp of The SETI Institute has said they get Wow! type signals all the time now when using the Allen Telescope Array due to the great advances in computer and communication technology since 1977 and they turn out to be terrestrial interference. See here:


    The significant quotes:

    Harp: “The “Wow!” signal was almost certainly radio frequency interference. The signal failed to pass even the simplest tests to exclude interfering signals from that observation campaign. From another perspective, at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), we see dozens of signals comparable to “Wow!” every day. This is simply because we have much more computational power than they did back when “Wow!” was seen. If the “Wow!” signal were seen today, it would be a yawn. However, there is a silver lining to the “Wow!” signal. “Wow!” has inspired a lot of public interest in SETI. Despite being a not very scientific result, public awareness of “Wow”! has been beneficial to SETI. So I generally think of “Wow!” as being a good thing from that perspective.”

    Shostak: “We cannot say that “Wow!” had anything to do with extraterrestrial intelligence. I was searched for a bit over one minute after first being found, and was not detected again. It was a one-off, and could easily have been terrestrial interference. It’s not good science to make claims that this was due to extraterrestrial beings.”

    The Wow! Signal of 1977 will live on because it is so ingrained in SETI and cultural lore, even though few seem to be aware it was not detected by a person sitting at a console at the time and was only found hours later when read off the output paper.

    Here are all the details:


    And there is this book titled The Elusive Wow by Robert H. Gray, who has spent years searching for the Wow! Signal to reappear:


    And then there is this Wow! Signal from 2012 that doesn’t seem to get nearly the same attention as the 1977 one but lasted far longer:


    • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:57

      FYI, my post above was originally meant as a reply to this comment:

      RAS August 28, 2016 at 4:32

      Hope this isn’t too OT topic but am I correct in thinking there is quite a bit of doubt for the comet explanation of the WOW signal?

    • RAS August 29, 2016, 12:24

      Thank you for that.

  • ljk August 29, 2016, 10:50

    Anyone keeping tabs on the Wow! Signal of 2010 called TYC 1220-91-1?


    It is a G2 class star about the same distance from Sol as this new candidate system. The signals itself was far more impressive than the one detected at OSU in 1977.

    Hard to find much on it, compared to the 1977 Wow! Signal:



    Though there is this Arxiv paper:


    As Marshall Eubanks said to me this morning on Facebook, maybe it is time that the various SETI groups got together and started working on further cooperation with astronomers so that when a candidate signals is detected (and don’t forget optical and other cosmic types) they can do an immediate group search and study to see what it could be. This is already done with gamma rays and supernovae.

    This is the 21st Century. The world is globally linked in multiple ways. The concept of ETI is no longer (or shouldn’t be) so taboo. A Russian billionaire just gave $100 million of his own money promote SETI, METI, and interstellar exploration via space probe. There are no more excuses not to conduct the most important events in human history. It is time to act like what we have known intellectually for centuries, that we are part of a much larger existence and that continuing to ignore it for this one pale blue dot will ultimately prove fatal for us.

    • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 15:41

      Thnx for the overview.

  • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:25


    Gravitational Microlensing Events as a Target for SETI project

    Sohrab Rahvar

    (Submitted on 18 Sep 2015 (v1), last revised 1 Jul 2016 (this version, v2))

    Detection of signals from a possible extrasolar technological civilization is one of the challenging efforts of science. In this work, we propose using natural telescopes made of single or binary gravitational lensing systems to magnify leakage of electromagnetic signals from a remote planet harbours an Extra Terrestrial Intelligent (ETI) technology.

    The gravitational microlensing surveys are monitoring a large area of Galactic bulge for searching microlensing events and they find more than 2000 events per year. These lenses are capable of playing the role of natural telescopes and in some occasions they can magnify radio band signals from the planets orbiting around the source stars in gravitational microlensing systems.

    Assuming that frequency of electromagnetic waves used for telecommunication in ETIs is similar to ours, we propose follow-up observation of microlensing events with radio telescopes such as Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Low Frequency Demonstrators (LFD) and Mileura Wide-Field Array (MWA). Amplifying signals from the leakage of broadcasting by an Earth-like civilizations will allow us to detect them up to center of Milky Way galaxy.

    Our analysis shows that in binary microlensing systems, the probability of amplification of signals from ETIs is more than that in single microlensing events. Finally we propose target of opportunity mode for follow-up observations of binary microlensing events with SKA as a new observational program for searching ETIs. Using the optimistic values for the factors of Drake equation provides detection of about one event per year.

    Comments: 14 pages, 8 figures, accepted in ApJ

    Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

    Cite as: arXiv:1509.05504 [astro-ph.IM]
    (or arXiv:1509.05504v2 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

    Submission history

    From: Sohrab Rahvar [view email]

    [v1] Fri, 18 Sep 2015 04:48:06 GMT (1303kb)
    [v2] Fri, 1 Jul 2016 17:33:23 GMT (1245kb)


  • ljk August 29, 2016, 11:47

    Aliens on Line 1

    For one evening, it looked like we finally had an extraterrestrial signal.

    By Seth Shostak

    Air & Space Magazine

    August 2016

    We thought we had found E.T.

    It was early on a summer evening in 1997. I had just finished dinner, and although I don’t recall the fare, I do recall the post-prandial excitement. Tom Pierson, the SETI Institute’s chief executive, called me at home and suggested that I hightail it down to the office.

    “We’ve got a signal,” he said in his trademark deadpan, “and it’s looking good.”

    After a short drive to our headquarters in Mountain View, California, I walked into the labyrinth where the institute’s scientists and engineers work. I found them decamped to an adjacent hallway, where a long table with a row of monitors was pushed against a wall. A half-dozen sleepy people were seated facing the table, their eyes fixed on the monitors, which were displaying a teeming grid of data.

    The numbers told a simple story: A narrow-band signal—millions of times more spectrally compact than a TV broadcast—was coming from the skies.

    Full article here:


    To quote:

    And we had learned something. The SETI protocols, while well intentioned, aren’t particularly useful in real life. Yes, of course any promising signal should be checked thoroughly, but you don’t need a protocol to understand that. And the stipulation to tell the world is as useless as hair gel for Mr. Clean. The incident demonstrated that any promising signal will become public knowledge immediately, even though it will be days or weeks before it’s rigorously confirmed. While that fact should quiet those who think that any detection of alien intelligence would be kept under wraps to avoid panic among the populace, the corollary is that in the future, you should expect to hear about some signals that look good but, after a few days of checking, don’t pan out. As soon as an interesting signal tickles a radio telescope, scientists will start tweeting and blogging. You can bet on it. [Certainly even moreso than in 1997. Many humans are going to flip out about such news no matter when you tell them or how carefully. Biological evolution is so slow.]

  • Dave August 29, 2016, 12:32

    Magic frequency. 2.7 cm is ~11.1 GHz. 11.117539925 is one half the 22 GHz rotational transition of H2O.

    • Harry R Ray August 29, 2016, 15:56

      OK, maybe we DO live in a computer program after all! A measurement(cm)based COMPLETELY on the physical properties of our solar system times (approximately)e gives a GHz signal approximately 1/2 a signal associated with a BASIC PROPERTY of water! And why the heck does the moon completely cover, but not OVERCOVER the sun so that we can EASILY VIEW a BASIC PROPERTY of THAT STAR? And on and on and on…..

      • Alex Tolley August 29, 2016, 16:08

        Convenient that we are around when the moon is currently in the correct position to perfectly eclipse the sum. If we are around in the distant future, won’t it be too small to do so?

        If we are in a simulation, maybe we can overload its capacity by requiring it render ever more detailed “reality” as we discover new worlds and monitor ever more fine details of ours.

        • Harry R Ray August 29, 2016, 19:45

          Keanu Reaves should come out of retirement and FINISH THE JOB! LOL.

          • Harry R Ray August 30, 2016, 17:12

            I asked myself THIS overnight: If it IS aliens, why futz around with a FRACTION of a “magic frequency” and just send it at the “magic frequency” ITSELF? I answer this question myself: The water-maser frequency is PARTIALLY BLOCKED by the Earth’s atmosphere, whereas 1/2 that frequency is NOT! If it IS aliens, they MUST have studied our atmosphere. OH, and by the way, this “uninteresting”(to SETI PROFESSIONALS) signal has broken ANOTHER record! The news is the FIRST to EVER APPEAR on the “CRAWL-SPACE” on CNN! I call this the “Proxima b effect”, where science fiction turned fact STARTS to go MAINSTREAM!