Science

Mysterious radio signal detected by Russian telescope was actually from Earth

That radio signal that might have been from extra-terrestrials? Sorry, it was actually from Earth, Russian scientists confirm.

Russian astronomers issue statement on signal turned up by search for extraterrestrial intelligence

The star from which a strange radio signal appears to have originated has one known planet in orbit, about the size of Neptune, similar to the one shown in this artist's conception. But it could also have other planets. (NASA)

That radio signal that might have been from extraterrestrials? Sorry, it was actually from Earth, Russian scientists confirm.

News of the strong radio signal detected by a Russian telescope last year caused a buzz this week after Italian researcher Claudio Maccone, who chairs the International Academy of Astronautics committee on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, told colleagues of a presentation he heard about the signal.

The signal detected by the RATAN-600 radio telescope, appeared to originate from HD 164595, a star system about 94 light years away in the constellation Hercules that's known to have at least one planet. That led to speculation that the signal may have come from an extra-terrestrial civilization.

The flurry of media excitement that followed made the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, one of two groups of Russian scientists collaborating on the project that detected the signal, "consider it necessary to make official comments."

The group confirmed Wednesday that in 2015, its astronomers and their collaborators at the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics of Lomonosov Moscow State University had detected an interesting radio signal with the RATAN-600 radio telescope as part of a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) survey searching for activity from extraterrestrial civilizations.

"Subsequent processing and analysis of the signal revealed its most probable terrestrial origin," it added.

"It can be said with confidence that no sought-for signal has been detected yet."

The media reports prompted the U.S.-based SETI Institute to announce this week that it would try to look for the signal itself with its Allen Telescope Array.

Even though the signal was not promising, "one should check out all reasonable possibilities, given the importance of the subject," wrote SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak in a blog post.

The group subsequently said it failed to see any signal from HD 164595 at the frequencies where they were originally reported by the Russian team.

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