Scientists scan for signs of alien life near source of historic 'Wow!' signal. Here’s what they found…

Scientists scan for signs of alien life near source of historic 'Wow!' signal. Here’s what they found…

Using a pair of telescopes, scientists scanned the zone where an alleged alien broadcast originated 45 years ago.

And the results showed…


Although the 'Wow!' signal investigation came up empty this time, the research team said the collaboration holds promise for making other searches for intelligent alien life. It will even involve analyzing data from the sky-mapping Gaia spacecraft to find

"This does not only include the Wow! signal uncertainty region ... but extends to areas on the sky where stellar densities are high, like the galactic centre and galactic disc," Farah wrote in an email on the 7th of November.



Research published in May identified a possible zone for the signal around a sun-like star located 1,800 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. "This is the first time a targeted search for the Wow! signal has been conducted," Karen Perez, a graduate student at Columbia University, said in a release about the research on the 29th of September, which Perez led. It was conducted by Breakthrough Listen, a program of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.


The Significance of the “Wow!” Signal


The Wow! Signal (The name comes from the word "Wow!" that a researcher scrawled on a printout showing the signal) blasted from space via radio on 15/8/77, but despite its regular pattern during a brief span, no one has found any concrete evidence of a repeat signal in the 45 years since that eventful evening. Perez noted the search spurred the first-ever collaboration between two telescopes funded by SETI: the Green Bank Telescope and the Allen Telescope Array. The telescopes made their observations on the same day, 21/5/77, with Green Bank conducting two 30-minute observations and ATA making six five-minute observations. Their observations also overlapped for almost 10 minutes, SETI said in the statement.

Farah, a postdoctoral researcher working at ATA, said the telescope's large field of view and other capabilities (like placing more search beams in the sky) will allow "many more sources [to] be identified and studied simultaneously with the instrument." In other words, more candidate stars where the signal originated might pop up in future searches of the region.

A paper based on the research was published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society. Open data about the search is available at this SETI site.


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