Ross 128 Signal: The Message Earth Has Been Waiting For?


Ross 128, one of the closest stars to Earth, has emitted radio signals that have left researchers at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory puzzled and fascinated. That made many space buffs jump to the first conclusion they always jump to.

“Bottom line: Astronomers at Arecibo Observatory observed a peculiar radio signal from the nearby star Ross 128,” wrote Deborah Byrd, EarthSky radio series editor-in-chief. “They aren’t saying ‘aliens,’ but the natural explanations have weaknesses.”

The observatory’s researchers didn’t notice the activity until two weeks after they were recorded, reported Popular Mechanics. They determined the signal couldn’t have come from any man-made satellites because the radio signal was dispersed in all directions, noted the magazine.

The signals behavior is similar to Type II solar flares, which are energetic events that vary rapidly in time and energy levels, but those are at a much lower frequency than what the observatory noticed.

“Since the frequencies are so high I’m counting on it being a new class of stellar flare for that hypothesis to work,” Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at Arecibo, said, according to Popular Mechanics. “To our knowledge, that will be the first such signals are observed in any star.”

Mendez said on the Planetary Habitability Laboratory website that the original observations of the signals were made May 12.

“Two weeks after these observations, we realized that there were some very peculiar signals in the 10-minute dynamic spectrum that we obtained from Ross 128, observed May 12 at 8:53 p.m. (Atlantic Standard Time),” said Mendez.

“The signals consisted of broadband quasi-periodic non-polarized pulses with very strong dispersion-like features. We believe that the signals are not local radio frequency interferences since they are unique to Ross 128 and observations of other stars immediately before and after did not show anything similar.”

Mendez said the observatory received more time to examine Ross 128, which happened Sunday, so researchers may be able to clarify the unusual radio emissions from the star. Ross 128 is about 11 light-years away from Earth.

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