Strange radio signal fired from nearby star is ‘serious candidate’ for proof of alien life, scientists say
ALIEN hunting astronomers are investigating a strange radio wave emission that seems to have come from a nearby star.
Proxima Centauri is our Solar System's closest star and is located just over 4 light years away.
With today's current technology it would still take over 6,000 years to get there.
The star appears to have produced a narrow beam of radio waves that was then picked up by the Parkes telescope in Australia.
This was during 30 hours of observation work done by the telescope last year in April and May.
Scientists are still analysing the radio wave beam to try and workout what caused it.
Researchers working on the Breakthrough Listen Project, an initiative set up in 2016 to search for alien life, often notice strange blasts of radio waves.
However, all these outbursts so far have been attributed to natural sources or human interference.
That's why the Proxima Centauri radio wave has so much interest because an explanation for it has not yet been found, although a man-made signal is still a likely cause.
Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star and the beam associated with it hasn't been detected again since.
According to The Guardian, an individual in the astronomy community who wanted to remain anonymous said the signal was a "serious candidate" in the search for alien life.
They reportedly said: "“It is the first serious candidate since the ‘Wow! signal’".
The Wow signal was another radio signal picked up in 1977, which still doesn't have a solid explanation.
The Breakthrough Listen Project continues to listen in on the million stars closest to Earth in the hope of picking up an alien broadcast.
Of the two planets that are known to orbit Proxima Centauri, one is thought to be in the habitable zone and could be rocky like Earth.
It's called Proxima b and is thought to be 17% more massive that Earth and could potentially be the right temperature to have water on its surface.
However, it's close proximity to the Proxima Centauri may mean that intense radiation and solar flares could have destroyed the planet's atmosphere and left no hope for life as we know it.
It's orbit means one side of the planet is always day and the other is always night.
Scientists are said to be working on a research paper covering all the possibilities about the mysterious signal.
Some experts are more sceptical about finding alien life than others.
Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist and professor of science communication at the University of Westminster, told The Guardian: "The chances against this being an artificial signal from Proxima Centauri seem staggering.
"We’ve been looking for alien life for so long now and the idea that it could turn out to be on our front doorstep, in the very next star system, is piling improbabilities upon improbabilities.
"If there is intelligent life there, it would almost certainly have spread much more widely across the galaxy.
"The chances of the only two civilisations in the entire galaxy happening to be neighbours, among 400bn stars, absolutely stretches the bounds of rationality."
Despite this he did add: "But I’d love to be proved wrong."
What is the Breakthrough Listen project?
Scientists want to know if something is out there…
- The Breakthrough Listen project was set up to search for intelligent alien life in the Universe
- It was launched in January 2016 by famous experts like Stephen Hawking
- The project should run for around 10 years
- It is funded by $100 million (£79,500,000) and special telescope facilities have set aside thousands of hours for it
- Breakthrough Listen is considered to be the most comprehensive alien searching project to date
- The project makes radio wave observations from two state of the art telescopes and visible light observations from another
- It aims to observe one million nearby stars and the centres of 100 galaxies
- So far, it hasn't found any signs of intelligent life but there are still many more stars to search
In other space news, ESA researchers think they've spotted an angel on Mars.
A satellite that can look inside buildings at any time of day has been launched.
China's Moon capsule landed on Earth on Thursday carrying the first lunar samples in over four decades.
Do you think we'll ever find alien life? Let us know in the comments…
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