Aliens or Error? Strange Signals from 234 Stars Being Investigated
Just recently, Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have detected strange 'strobe-like' bursts coming from 234 stars. Since then, astronomers have been investigating it. The latest to join the investigation is Stephen Hawking, through the Breakthrough Listen project, which is funded by himself and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and run by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research Centre at the University of California Berkeley.
The discovery of the mysterious lights was described in a paper entitled "Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars," which was published in a pre-print website, arXiv.org.
"We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis," the abstract read.
The paper was authored by astronomers Ermanno Borra and Eric Trottier from Laval University in Canada. While Borra and Trottier said the signals could be coming from extraterrestrial life, it is yet to be formally peer-reviewed. Thus, further study in needed.
In a statement, SETI, said Borra's and Trottier's study is worth a follow-up, "The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional study. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
The statement added that careful work is needed and that the use of two or more independent telescopes is a must to confirm the extraterrestrial claim. Andrew Siemion, the director of the SETI Research Centre said he thinks the spectral patterns were likely caused by errors in calibration or data analysis because of some steps of analysis they did not think through.
Nevertheless, Borra told New Scientist, that he is excited to see that others are taking the reins. "At this stage, the signal is so strange, that although our detailed analysis seems to indicate that it is a real signal, it has to be validated with more work," he said.