Almost half a century ago, at around 11:16 p.m. on August 15, 1977, a strange signal was picked up by a radio telescope that lasted just one minute and 12 seconds. The radio signal was received by the Big Ear radio telescope, 45 years later, it remains the strongest candidate for a potential extraterrestrial origin.
Upon seeing the print of the unique signal, astronomer Jerry Ehman circled the strange frequency and scribbled “wow”, giving it the mystical name.
Now researchers have pinpointed the likely source of this radio signal which has been dubbed the “wow” signal to a sun-like star in the constellation Sagittarius nearly 1,800 light-years from Earth. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which has searched for intelligent life forms in the dark trenches of the universe, continues to study the signal.
Research published in the International Journal of Astrobiology says a total of 66 G- and K-type stars were sampled to uncover the source of the extraterrestrial signal, but only one of them is identified as a potential Sun-like star. depending on availability. information.
The image above is from a scan of a color copy of the original computer print taken several years after the 1977 arrival of the “Wow!” signal. (Photo: Jerry R. Ehman)
Astronomer Alberto Caballero, who led the search, identified 2MASS 19281982-2640123 as the ideal target to make observations in search of techno-signatures of the signal.
While the signal lasted 72 seconds, the search for the source took over 45 years because it was never repeated and a similar signal was never detected. “If we analyze the history of the (few) radio signals that humanity sent to multiple targets in hopes of contacting a civilization, none of these transmissions had a long duration or were sent to multiple times for a long time. An extraterrestrial civilization could have chosen to behave in the same way,” Caballero said in the paper.
The astronomer tracked a total of 550 stars with a temperature between 4,450 and 6,000 K were found in the region that could have been the point of emergence of the single signal. G-type stars were selected because the Sun is a G-type star, with a temperature of 5,778 Kelvin, and the only type of life we have found orbits this type of star. K-type stars were also selected because they are considered likely to host super-habitable planets.
The astronomer has identified an object in deep space as the potential source of the wow signal, the sun-like star 2MASS 19281982-2640123, which is too dim to photograph with current technology, an extragalactic source or any other origin.
Earth had also broadcast a radio message using the powerful Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico containing information on the basic chemicals of life, the structure of DNA, Earth’s place in our solar system and a stick figure of a human. However, no response has been received so far.
A new plan is now being considered to send another signal into deep space with new information including simple principles of communication, basic mathematical concepts, physical formulas, constituents of DNA as well as information about humans. , Earth, and a return address if anyone wants to go back.