Astronomers say they’ve detected mysterious signals that might be coming from a small, dim star situated about 11 light-years away from Earth.They have picked up the mysterious signals on May 12 using the Arecibo Observatory, a large astronomical telescope built inside a Puerto Rican sinkhole. The radio signals seem to be coming from Ross 128, a red dwarf star that’s not yet known to possess any planets and is about 2,800 times dimmer than the Sun.
Abel Méndez, an astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, said the star was observed for 10 minutes, during which period the signal was picked up and “almost periodic”.
Méndez said though unlikely, the chance that signals came from intelligent extraterrestrial life can not be ruled out yet. He further said that the signal is more likely coming from something humans put in space, maybe a satellite that passed thousands of miles overhead.
However, in a July 12 blog post about the mystery of Ross 128, he wrote that “we have never seen satellites emit bursts like that” and called the signals “very peculiar”.
Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, confirmed that the group is “well aware of the signals” and might use its powerful Allen Telescope Array in California “to check them out.”
“The chances are high that they’re terrestrial interference, in fact. That’s really always been the case,” Shostak told Business Insider in an email.
Another potential explanation could be a stellar flare, or outburst of energy from the star’s surface. Such bursts from the sun travel at light-speed, emit powerful radio signals, and might disrupt satellites and communications on Earth.