SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

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SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby EnterpriseSovereign » 2016-08-30 10:37am

An international team of scientists from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is investigating mysterious signal spikes emitting from a 6.3-billion-year-old star in the constellation Hercules—95 light years away from Earth. The implications are extraordinary and point to the possibility of a civilization far more advanced than our own.

The unusual signal was originally detected on May 15, 2015, by the Russian Academy of Science-operated RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, but was kept secret from the international community. Interstellar space reporter Paul Gilster broke the story after the researchers quietly circulated a paper announcing the detection of “a strong signal in the direction of HD164595.”

The mysterious star’s designation is HD164595, and it’s considered to be sun-like in nature with a nearly identical metallic composition to our own star. So far, a single Neptune-like (but warmer) planet has been discovered in its orbit—HD 164595 b. But as Gilster explained, “There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system.”

Decorated Italian SETI researcher and mathematician Claudio Maccone along with Russia’s Nikolai Bursov of the Special Astrophysical Observatory are the principal scientists working on the apparent discovery. They claim that “permanent monitoring of this target is needed.”

“The signal conceivably fits the profile for an intentional transmission from an extraterrestrial source,” said Alan Boyle, author of The Case for Pluto who reported the story for Geekwire. “In any case, the blip is interesting enough to merit discussion by those who specialize in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.”

The signal’s strength indicates that if it in fact came from a isotropic beacon, the power source would have to be built by a Kardashev Type II civilization. (The Kardashev scale is used to determine the progress of a civilization’s technological development by measuring how much energy was used to transmit an interstellar message.) An ‘Isotropic’ beacon means a communication source emitting a signal with equal power in all directions while promoting signal strength throughout travel.

In his acclaimed work “Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations,” Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev explained that a Type II civilization would be able to harness the energy of their entire host star. The most common hypothetical example of this would be a Dyson Sphere—which is a massive artificial structure that could completely encapsulate a star and transfer the energy to a nearby planet.


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Your claim of using a scientific equation is laughable when all you have done is butcher science to the point it makes 'The Core' look like a fucking documentary. Just because you have the attention span of a fruit fly doesn't mean the rest of us are so encumbered.

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-08-30 10:40am

I will, of course, await confirmation before getting really excited, but if this turned out to be genuine, especially now, on top of the recent discovery of a possibly habitable world only 4.5 lightyears away, it would be amazing.

And make the current state of our space program even more inexcusable.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Napoleon the Clown » 2016-08-30 02:50pm

Just call me Napoleon the Killjoy:
Seti@Home
Eric Korpela wrote:I'm sure that many of you have seen the news reports of a "SETI signal" detected from the star HD 164595

I was one of the many people who received the the email with the subject "Candidate SETI SIGNAL DETECTED by Russians from star HD 164595 by virtue of RATAN-600 radio telescope." Since the email did come from known SETI researchers, I looked over the presentation. I was unimpressed. In one out of 39 scans that passed over star showed a signal at about 4.5 times the mean noise power with a profile somewhat like the beam profile. Of course SETI@home has seen millions of potential signals with similar characteristics, but it takes more than that to make a good candidate. Multiple detections are a minimum criterion.

Because the receivers used were making broad band measurements, there's really nothing about this "signal" that would distinguish it from a natural radio transient (stellar flare, active galactic nucleus, microlensing of a background source, etc.) There's also nothing that could distinguish it from a satellite passing through the telescope field of view. All in all, it's relatively uninteresting from a SETI standpoint.

But, of course, it's been announced to the media. Reporters won't have the background to know it's not interesting. Because the media has it, and since this business runs on media, everyone will look at it. ATA is looking at it. I assume Breakthrough will look at it. Someone will look at it with Arecibo, and we'll be along for the ride. And I'll check the SETI@home database around that position. And we'll all find nothing. It's not our first time at this rodeo, so we know how it works.


Short version is, it's probably nothing of interest. It could even be that one of our own satellites went by. Always take any announcements from SETI with a very large grain of salt, they operate on private contributions and know that if they go for a long period of time without finding anything even vaguely interesting interesting it will affect donations.

Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power? They'd have little reason to expend the sort of energy it would take for an omnidirectional burst that could be detected this far away, and they'd have no real reason to send a directed message toward Earth.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Captain Seafort » 2016-08-30 03:42pm

Napoleon the Clown wrote:Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power? They'd have little reason to expend the sort of energy it would take for an omnidirectional burst that could be detected this far away, and they'd have no real reason to send a directed message toward Earth.


What not? We've done much the same sort of thing repeatedly. While I agree that Korpela pretty conclusively shoots down the idea that this is likely to be such a message (probably trying to piggy-back off the news of Proxima b), I don't see any issue with the concept of such a transmission in principle.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Borgholio » 2016-08-30 04:14pm

A burst transmission to get our attention would be a good idea. Get us looking with more sensitive telescopes and find a weaker signal that contains more data. However with that said, the issue with this burst signal is that it's very vague. It's not a tight-beam transmission that is clearly defined as something unusual, it is just a more powerful burst of the same stuff that's in the background. So the idea of a burst transmission has merit, it's just that this is not such a transmission. As explained above, Seti astronomers see this stuff all the time and it's nothing special.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-08-30 04:26pm

Part of the problem, IIRC, with labeling such signals 'transmissions' is that in order to tight-beam a burst from a distant star to a specific planet... you're going to need a ridiculous amount of power. Like, Dyson Sphere level power.

I could be off base on that... but yeah.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Borgholio » 2016-08-30 04:36pm

Well Aricebo is able to tight-beam a signal that can be picked up by another dish the same size across several thousand lightyears. So it doesn't require a whole lot of power, just a big dish with lots of focus. You will need more power if you want to transmit more data than simple ASCII blocks, but a basic "lighthouse" transmission is doable even with 70's tech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Captain Seafort » 2016-08-30 04:46pm

Borgholio wrote:Well Aricebo is able to tight-beam a signal that can be picked up by another dish the same size across several thousand lightyears. So it doesn't require a whole lot of power, just a big dish with lots of focus. You will need more power if you want to transmit more data than simple ASCII blocks, but a basic "lighthouse" transmission is doable even with 70's tech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message


And for a basic "someone intelligent is here", you wouldn't even need that - a series of short bursts, sent in groups of the the first few dozen prime numbers would be enough.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-08-30 04:47pm

I suppose it could have been more complex messages that the bit I read was talking about. Is that what this signal would qualify as, or is it merely pretty much a blip?
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Borgholio » 2016-08-30 04:53pm

The Aricebo message did contain data. It had pictures and mathematical / biological diagrams in it. Pretty primitive even by our standards but clearly artificial if someone were to intercept it. If SETI heard something like this coming from the sky, they would go apeshit. And this was only a 1 megawatt transmission too. If someone out there was able to put a *mere* couple hundred megawatts into a tightbeam radio signal and keep it broadcasting 24/7 (Earth time), then it would be impossible for us to confuse it with something natural.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby EnterpriseSovereign » 2016-08-30 06:35pm

Captain Seafort wrote:
Napoleon the Clown wrote:Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power? They'd have little reason to expend the sort of energy it would take for an omnidirectional burst that could be detected this far away, and they'd have no real reason to send a directed message toward Earth.


What not? We've done much the same sort of thing repeatedly. While I agree that Korpela pretty conclusively shoots down the idea that this is likely to be such a message (probably trying to piggy-back off the news of Proxima b), I don't see any issue with the concept of such a transmission in principle.

That's the first thought to cross my mind when I noticed this, but I felt it prudent to mention it and let others make up their own minds as to its legitimacy.

There was this announcement a year ago:
Stephen Hawking has long made his concerns about the search for extraterrestrial life clear. But after his appearance with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner on Monday to announce Breakthrough Listen, the new $100 million initiative looking for signs of intelligent life, the famous physicist seems to have at least partially reconsidered.
It's no use debating a moron; they drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

Your claim of using a scientific equation is laughable when all you have done is butcher science to the point it makes 'The Core' look like a fucking documentary. Just because you have the attention span of a fruit fly doesn't mean the rest of us are so encumbered.

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Zeropoint » 2016-08-30 07:14pm

Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power?


Also ask yourself: How much do I know about alien psychology? Would they necessarily have the same set of motivations and priorities that humans do? Is it reasonable to expect to understand what an unknown alien civilization would or wouldn't do, and why or why not?
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-30 08:11pm

Napoleon the Clown wrote:Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power? They'd have little reason to expend the sort of energy it would take for an omnidirectional burst that could be detected this far away, and they'd have no real reason to send a directed message toward Earth.
They might beam directed signals at the habitable zone of each habitable planet they've detected, one at a time, taking turns or something. Given the success we're having spotting exoplanets, aliens wouldn't have to be much more advanced than we are to know Earth exists.

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Napoleon the Clown » 2016-08-31 03:09am

Simon_Jester wrote:
Napoleon the Clown wrote:Also ask yourself: Why would an alien civilization blast out a radio signal of such power? They'd have little reason to expend the sort of energy it would take for an omnidirectional burst that could be detected this far away, and they'd have no real reason to send a directed message toward Earth.
They might beam directed signals at the habitable zone of each habitable planet they've detected, one at a time, taking turns or something. Given the success we're having spotting exoplanets, aliens wouldn't have to be much more advanced than we are to know Earth exists.

That's certainly a viable motive. What we detected, though, didn't even seem to be anything special. Until we detect something obviously artificial (I saw mention of prime numbers being transmitted) it's a balancing of odds someone would expend the energy to "yell" loud enough for us to hear vs how unique the detected radio waves are.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-31 05:32am

Fair enough.

I will note that a hypothetical civilization of aliens might think the energy was actually a fairly cheap price to pay in order to operate their giant beacon. There are a lot of ways that a spacefaring interplanetary culture might wind up with more electricity than they know what to do with.

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Tribble » 2016-08-31 06:12am

There was this announcement a year ago:


Stephen Hawking has long made his concerns about the search for extraterrestrial life clear. But after his appearance with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner on Monday to announce Breakthrough Listen, the new $100 million initiative looking for signs of intelligent life, the famous physicist seems to have at least partially reconsidered.


Well, I suppose looking for signs of intelligent life is different than broadcasting our position left right and centre to anyone who might be able to detect our signals.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Iroscato » 2016-08-31 04:16pm

Interesting, but that title annoys me - it kind of is a drill, since it's far from confirmed to be an artificially-produced signal (and is unlikely to be one in any case).
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Zeropoint » 2016-08-31 05:12pm

I couldn't find any details, but I saw a rumor that it has been confirmed that the signal definitely IS of artificial origin, created by an intelligent race: us.

Waiting to hear more.
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Esquire » 2016-08-31 05:13pm

EDIT: Missed that vital last word. :D
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Zeropoint » 2016-08-31 05:16pm

Well, I MIGHT have been being deliberately unclear for humor purposes when I wrote that.

>_>

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Ziggy Stardust » 2016-08-31 05:23pm

Zeropoint wrote:I couldn't find any details, but I saw a rumor that it has been confirmed that the signal definitely IS of artificial origin, created by an intelligent race: us.

Waiting to hear more.


The source seems to be the Russian Academy of Sciences. To wit:

In the framework of this program, an interesting radio signal at a wavelength of 2.7 cm was detected in the direction of one of the objects (star system HD164595 in Hercules) in 2015. Subsequent processing and analysis of the signal revealed its most probable terrestrial origin.

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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Broomstick » 2016-08-31 09:14pm

So.... it WAS a sign of life in the universe, but something a lot more local than we first thought?
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Zeropoint » 2016-09-01 05:53pm

Astronomers have confirmed that, despite appearances to the contrary, there IS intelligent life on Earth!
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Zixinus » 2016-09-02 04:10am

So, basically another workday for SETI?

Are there really that many satellites that even astronomers get confused about what they are seeing when they get a signal like this?
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Re: Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space

Postby Broomstick » 2016-09-02 04:40am

There are something like 2300-3000 man-made satellites currently in orbit, some of them secret projects so their existence isn't publicized, some defunct and largely forgotten (until they hit something).
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