Home Daily Blitz No, We Almost Certainly Did Not Detect an Alien Signal

No, We Almost Certainly Did Not Detect an Alien Signal


slate articleThe following is an excerpt from Phil Plait | August 31, 2016 | Slate.com |

The internets are buzzing with news that a Russian radio telescope detected a signal from a nearby Sun-like star and that it may be from an alien civilization.

I’ll ask you to read the title of this post again before I continue.

OK, got it? Here’s the thing: If we did detect a strong signal that had all the earmarks of an alien civilization, you’d be hearing SETI astronomers (and people like me) singing it from the rooftops. This ain’t that.

Here’s another thing: The signal is real, and may very well be from an intelligent civilization. That civilization, however, is us.

The signal appears to come from a part of the sky containing the star HD 164595, a star very much like the Sun, but located about 95 light-years away. It’s older than the Sun, likely a bit more than 6 billion years in age (the Sun is about 4.5 billion years old). It’s known to have at least one planet, what’s likely to be a gas giant with about Neptune’s mass, orbiting the star every 40 days. It may have other planets, but if so we haven’t detected them yet.

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