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Ready Meals Are Literally Ruining Our Attempts To Discover Alien Life

06/05/2015 12:44 BST | Updated 06/05/2015 12:59 BST

Australian astronomers at the Parkes telescope have finally found the cause for a mysterious signal that was being picked up by the country's most famous radio telescope for over 17 years. Ready meals.

That's right, the root of the signal was a microwave oven, used by staff to heat up their lunches.

parkes telescope

For 17 years the signal had baffled astronomers with theories ranging from the extreme (aliens), to the more reasonable (lightning strikes).

It was only at the beginning of this year however that they were finally able to pinpoint the cause of the interference. The team installed a brand new receiver specifically designed to root out rogue signals, at which point the discovery was made.

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Detecting strong 2.4GHz signals, it became clear that the problem wasn't in fact the microwave oven in itself, but rather the action of opening the door before the microwave had finished heating.

These rogue signals are not uncommon, in fact as the Guardian points out, they're actually rather common. In 1967 astronomers thought they'd discovered Potassium Flare Stars, what they were actually detecting was someone lighting a match.