Several months ago, scientists from the Arecibo Observatory picked up a strange radio signal that left them baffled.
The signal appeared as part of a routine observation of seven solar systems that they believed contained red dwarf stars with orbiting planets.
While only two of the systems turned out to have planets, one of them provided a lot more information than they’d bargained for.
During their observation of Ross 128 the team picked up some ‘very peculiar’ signals emanating from the system just 11 light-years away from Earth.
Having closely analysed the signals the team are pretty confident that this is not a case of local interference but in fact a genuine radio pulse coming from deep space.
The problem however is that if it isn’t a case of crossed wires with an orbiting satellite then what could it be?
Writing about the discovery, Professor Abel Méndez gives us three possible explanations for the phenomenon.
″(1) Emissions from Ross 128 similar to Type II solar flares, (2) emissions from another object in the field of view of Ross 128, or just (3) burst from a high orbit satellite since low orbit satellites are quick to move out of the field of view.” he writes.
Each one poses its own problems though. For starters Type 2 solar flares occur at much lower frequencies than the one detected, there are no known nearby objects that could obstruct the field of view and finally, the team have literally never satellites emit radio bursts like the one detected.
Now the popular theory at this point would be to simply say that it’s obviously aliens.
Well sadly it appears as though Professor Méndez has some bad news for all those hoping for first contact.
To help get to the bottom of this mystery the team from the University of Puerto Rico were able to observe Ross 128 again on 17 July. While they’re still collecting and analysing the data Professor Méndez believes they should finally have some answers within the next few weeks.