First Contact? SETI Is Investigating an Extraterrestrial Signal

An unusually powerful signal has been detected coming from a solar system 95 lightyears away.

  • Alien signal 1

    Source: Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill/Wikimedia Commons / Via:

  • Stories about potential alien contact break all the time — and not just in comedy form. We don't blame you for being skeptical about stories like this one. But guys! This time it's actually pretty promising!

    In plain English: Russian scientists detected a strong signal coming from the direction of a distant star system — one strong enough that scientists from SETI (the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) are calling for "permanent monitoring" of the source of the signal. It's obviously speculation at this point, but the signal may fit the profile for "an intentional transmission from an extraterrestrial source," according to Geekwire's Alan Boyle.

    MSN reported in a story that went viral online that the signals, which were first detected in May of 2015, come from the vicinity of a star known as HD164595. The star is in the Hercules constellation, about 95 lightyears away from Earth. So far, only one planet has been detected in the star's system, but according to Paul Gilster, who broke the story, "there could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system."

    There are a few different possibilities as to what this signal is. First, and most likely, it could be completely unrelated to alien life. Second, it could be an "isotropic" beacon — a powerful signal blasted out in all directions, one that would likely require that the civilization can harness all of the power of its host star. And third, it could be a targeted beacon — directly aimed at Earth, by a civilization that does not necessarily have that harnessing power, but is potentially aware of the presence of another civilization that has the capacity to understand such a beacon.

    The SETI institute is diverting its Allen Telescope Array (pictured above) to monitor these signals. If anything comes from this, we'll be sure to let you know!

    What do you think? Is this another civilization trying to reach out to us, or just another blip? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!

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