Posted By K. Michael Malolepszy
Mysterious signals from 1000 light years away
19:00 01 September 04
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition
In February 2003, astronomers involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) pointed the massive radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, at around 200 sections of the sky.
The same telescope had previously detected unexplained radio signals at least twice from each of these regions, and the astronomers were trying to reconfirm the findings. The team has now finished analysing the data, and all the signals seem to have disappeared. Except one, which has got stronger.
This radio signal, now seen on three separate occasions, is an enigma. It could be generated by a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon. Or it could be something much more mundane, maybe an artefact of the telescope itself.
But it also happens to be the best candidate yet for a contact by intelligent aliens in the nearly six-year history of the SETI@home project, which uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through signals picked up by the Arecibo telescope.
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