Scientists from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) are currently investigating a mysterious signal coming from a 6.3-billion-year-old star in the constellation Hercules – 95 light years away from Earth.
“The signal conceivably fits the profile for an intentional transmission from an extraterrestrial source,” said Alan Boyle, author of The Case for Pluto, who was not involved in the research. “In any case, the blip is interesting enough to merit discussion by those who specialize in the search from extraterrestrial intelligence.”
First detected on May 15, 2015, by the Russian Academy of Science-operated RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, the signal was kept secret from the public, as well as the international community, and only revealed as researchers began circulating a paper announcing the detection of “a strong signal in the direction of HD164595”.
The star itself is thought to be very similar to the Sun, with a nearly identical metallic composition. So far, scientists have discovered only one, Neptune-like planet in its orbit, called HD164595 b, although there could be more.
Researchers speculate that if the signal in fact came from an isotropic beacon (a communication source emitting a signal with equal power in all directions while promoting signal strength throughout travel), the power source would have to be built by a Kardashev Type II civilization.
The well-known Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev wrote that a Type II civilization would be able to harness the power of their entire host star, possibly through the use of a Dyson Sphere – a theoretical structure that encapsulates the entire star and transfers the energy to a nearby planet.
But even if the signal, supposing it’s artificially generated, was aimed specifically at our galaxy, this would suggest the possible existence of a Type I planetary civilization that is similar to our own – technologically advanced and globalized.
“The signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target,” said Paul Gilster, who broke the story for Centauri Dreams. Both SETI and METI International (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) are currently dedicating much of their resources to that end.
The signal and all the ensuing investigation will be presented at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on September 27 of this year.