Proxima Centauri: the near-Earth ET signal | Digital Trends Spanish
A team of astronomers from the Breakthrough Listen search for extraterrestrial life project captured, through the Parkes telescope in Australia, a particular radio signal that researchers believe could be sent from Proxima Centauri, the solar system closest to Earth.
As detailed in the English newspaper The Guardian, the signal was detected while the Parkes telescope was aimed at Proxima Centauri between April and May 2019. In another report published in Astronomy It is detailed that, after 30 hours of observations, it was found that the signal – baptized BLC-1 – appeared for periods of 30 minutes over several days and at an oscillatory frequency close to 980 MHz.
Due to these characteristics, experts believe that the signal was emitted from a moving object near Proxima Centauri.
“It can be the orbital motion of a planet, a floating transmitter, or one placed on a moon,” said Jason Wright, an astronomer at Penn State University in Pennsylvania.
Despite the suggestiveness of the finding, astronomers are cautious and do not rule out that the signal is the product of interference from a human signal sent from Earth.
“The most plausible explanation is probably a source on the Earth’s surface whose frequency, for some reason, changes very slowly,” Wright added.
Scientists are also skeptical that the signal comes from an intelligent form of life in a solar system so close to our own.
Proxima Centauri, a binary system made up of two planets orbiting a red dwarf star, is located 4.22 light years from Earth (about 36 trillion kilometers). Its proximity and the possibility that a neighboring system can harbor intelligent life amounts, according to scientists, to searching the keys throughout the house only to find that they were in the pocket of the pants.
They also believe it is unlikely that we would have found extraterrestrial life in such a close system without it having done so first.
“I find it hard to believe that a technologized civilization in Proxima Centauri does not know about life on Earth,” said astrobiologist Jacob Haqq-Misra.
“The only way they wouldn’t know is if they were at our level of technology, so they would be discovering us at the same time as us.
“And this is unlikely, especially since a difference of thousands of years, little in astronomical terms, would result in drastic differences in our detection capabilities,” he added.
Whatever its origin, the planetary makeup of Proxima Centauri gives scientists reason to search there. And it is that one of its planets, Proxima B, has a rock formation, a size similar to Earth and orbits at a distance far enough from its sun to host liquid water.
In the same way, scientists have in the past detected signals whose initial hypothesis pointed to ground interference, but which were never found.
In 1977, the Big Ear Telescope at Ohio State University detected a 72-second signal from the constellation Sagittarius. The signal was known as “Wow” due to the notation made by Jerry Ehman, the astronomer who detected it. Until now, scientists have not been able to clarify where the signal came from.