The Wow! Sign: New search comes up empty


The well-known Wow! Sign, detected by the Huge Ear Radio Observatory on August 15, 1977. It’s nonetheless a number one candidate for an clever extraterrestrial radio sign. However astronomers heard it simply as soon as, and by no means once more. Picture by way of Huge Ear Radio Observatory/ North American Astrophysical Observatory/ Wikimedia Commons (Public Area).

The well-known Wow! Sign remains to be one of the crucial intriguing candidate radio indicators ever discovered within the seek for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). To at the present time, scientists haven’t defined its origin. The Ohio State College’s Huge Ear radio telescope picked up the sign close to the 21-cm hydrogen line at 1420 MHz. It was tantalizing. However it lasted solely 72 seconds after which was gone … and has by no means returned.

Scientists searched, and watched, however by no means heard the sign once more. Was it a case of radio interference from Earth? An unknown sort of pure radio sign? Or may it, in truth, have been a real sign from an alien civilization? We might by no means know for certain. However astronomers are nonetheless making an attempt to pinpoint its origin.

Now, the Breakthrough Pay attention group is reporting the outcomes of their very own seek for a repeat of the elusive Wow! Sign. They revealed their new peer-reviewed paper within the September 2022 problem of Analysis Notes of the AAS.

Did the Wow! Sign come from a sun-like star?

The brand new search targeted on the sun-like star 2MASS 19281982-2640123, which lies within the path of the primary detected sign. Furthermore, it’s very like our personal solar, with related temperature, radius and luminosity. It’s 1,788 light-years away from Earth within the constellation Sagittarius. Beforehand, astronomer Alberto Caballero had recognized the star in 2020 as a doable supply for the Wow! Sign.

The unique Huge Ear radio telescope used two feed horns for listening, one optimistic and the opposite unfavourable. Caballero’s group, utilizing knowledge from the Gaia mission, discovered 38 and 28 Okay- and G-type stars within the horns’ detectability vary, respectively. Finally, the researchers recognized 2MASS 19281982-2640123 as the one sun-like star that in that group.

The Breakthrough Pay attention group, nonetheless, used extra superior filtering standards for analyzing the celebrities within the area. They really discovered eight sun-like stars within the area the place the Wow! Sign originated.

Breakthrough Pay attention used each the Inexperienced Financial institution Telescope (two 30-minute observations) and the Allen Telescope Array (six 5-minute observations). The search targeted on the L-band portion of the radio spectrum (1-2 GHz). Particularly, the group regarded for slim band indicators, which might be almost certainly to be synthetic. Each telescopes scanned the sky for a interval of 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

Large circle on right connected by 2 lines to smaller circle on left, with black lines and thousands of black dots.
View bigger. | These are the two areas within the constellation Sagittarius (marked by 2 vertical ovals) the place the Wow! Sign might have originated. The unique Huge Ear radio telescope’s 2 feed horns scanned these areas. Picture by way of Philip Terry Graham/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0).

New seek for the Wow! Sign: nothing discovered

So, what was the end result? Sadly, as with earlier searches, the researchers didn’t discover something. As Breakthrough Pay attention said:

No technosignature candidates had been discovered, though there stays an abundance of different stars from which the sign may have originated.

Because the paper famous:

Each telescope observations had an overlap of 580 s. Whereas blind searches utilizing radio telescopes have been performed within the normal area of view by which the Wow! Sign was first detected, that is the primary time a focused search has been executed. No technosignature candidates had been detected.

It’s one other disappointing end result, however as famous, there are not less than eight sun-like stars within the area the place the sign might have originated. In the end, future observations may goal a few of these stars.

What about different stars?

Typically, we consider sun-like stars as splendid targets, since life on Earth advanced with the identical form of star, our solar. However what about pink dwarfs? Considerably, they’re the commonest sort of star in our galaxy, and astronomers have discovered many exoplanets orbiting them, together with rocky worlds like Earth. We don’t but know what the possibilities are for all times to originate on planets round pink dwarfs, however from what we do know to date, it appears there’s an affordable probability. What number of of those stars are within the Wow! Sign listening zone?

Obtain the info units from Breakthrough Pay attention

Backside line: Scientists with Breakthrough Pay attention simply performed a brand new search round a sun-like star for the well-known Wow! Sign detected in 1977. Sadly, they heard nothing.

Supply: Breakthrough Pay attention Seek for the WOW! Sign*

Through Breakthrough Pay attention


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