Mysterious Signal From Outer Space, Is Someone Trying To Contact Us?
A mysterious signal coming from a region of space between the constellations Pisces and Aries has been picked up on three different occasions by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.
The signal is very puzzling and does not resemble any known astronomical phenomenon. Researchers who have studied its frequency pattern do not believe it is natural interference or noise.
Was the signal transmitted deliberately by an extraterrestrial civilization on a distant planet? Scientists remain cautious but we cannot dismiss the possibility.
Astronomers believe there are about 10,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy alone.
Lets not forget that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe, which means the Universe may actually be teeming with life.
SETI and other astronomers were excited about the news, but they were also worried the signal may never be completely decoded.
"We probably won't be able to decode it. We'll know something's out there, but we won't know much about their civilization, " said Dan Wertheimer of the UC Berkeley SETI Project.
SHGb02+14a, as the signal has been named has been heard on three occasions adding up to about a minute. This is not long enough firmly to establish its source, but its frequency of 1420 megahertz has interested scientists, as it is a main frequency at which hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe, absorbs and emits energy.
Scientists have various opinions about the nature of SHGb02+14a.
Eric Korpela of Berkeley, who has analyzed the signal, said: "We are looking for something that screams out artificial. This doesn't, but it could be because it is distant."
David Anderson, director of [email protected], said: "It is unlikely to be real, but we will definitely be re- observing it."
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, of the University of Bath, said that the signal could be a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon, such as a pulsar she detected in 1967. "It may be a natural phenomenon of a previously undreamt-of kind like I stumbled over," she said.
Woodruff Sullivan, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said the research suggests that a message from an advanced alien civilization could already be lurking undetected in the solar system.
"This scenario is reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which a monolith discovered on the Moon has been left by extra-terrestrials. If archaeologists were to find such an object, it would hardly be the first time that science fiction had become science fact," said Sullivan
Of course, even if astronomers somehow manage to decode the signal, they will face another problem - What should we reply to an alien civilization? How can we communicate with these beings?
We still don't know if someone has been trying to contact us, but the signal coming from a galaxy very away, remains intriguing and we hope we may one day find out whether it is of artificial origin or an unknown natural phenomenon.