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Was 'Wow!' alien signal triggered by comets ?

Posted on Saturday, 16 January, 2016 | Comment icon 23 comments

The famous Wow! signal may not be quite what it seems. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 John Masterson, CSIRO
The famous 'Wow!' signal picked up in 1977 could turn out to have a rather mundane explanation.
Astronomers have been listening out for extraterrestrial signals for years, but one case - that of a strange signal picked up by a school telescope at Ohio State University 40 years ago - has since remained one of the most tantalizing and perplexing examples ever recorded.

Originating in the globular cluster of M55 in the constellation Sagittarius, the peculiar signal lasted approximately 72 seconds and has never been heard again since. Astronomer Jerry Ehman, who was the first to examine the computer readout, famously wrote the word 'Wow!' on the page.

The signal would remain a mystery for years, but now a recently published study has cast doubt on the idea that it may have come from an intelligent extraterrestrial source by suggesting that it was instead triggered by two comets that had not been detected at the time.

Antonio Paris, professor of astronomy at St Petersburg College in Florida, maintains that the two comets could have emitted enough hydrogen to produce the signal that was picked up.

While he has yet to confirm these conclusions, Paris intends to test his theory by examining the same two comets when they pass by the Earth again in 2017 and 2018.

If he is right then he will have solved one of the most intriguing mysteries in modern astronomy.

Source: AOL News | Comments (23)

Tags: SETI, Extraterrestrial, Comet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by badeskov on 17 January, 2016, 0:56
Honestly, in my uneducated opinion, I don't think anybody will ever find out where this signal originated from unless a similar signal shows up. All kinds of hypothesis can be put up, but in the end, they need to be verified. Cheers, Badeskov
Comment icon #15 Posted by JVG on 17 January, 2016, 1:27
Hopefully one day we will know the truth...Trying to speculate what it is for now is just that...Cover up I doubt it...
Comment icon #16 Posted by Hawkin on 17 January, 2016, 1:48
Comment icon #17 Posted by docyabut2 on 17 January, 2016, 3:50
I can agree with the theory, it could have been a one time fluke.
Comment icon #18 Posted by JVG on 17 January, 2016, 23:16
A star ship coming out of warp drive to soon..Scottie I need more power....
Comment icon #19 Posted by psyche101 on 21 January, 2016, 4:01
Well I do hope you are right, it has been a mystery that I have enjoyed, and it would be deflating if it was comets, although if that is the case, I would like to know. If not for your overly zealous approach to the question of ET overall, I would be pleased to see your information as countering the hypothesis, but due to your eternal optimism with anything astronomical that you can vaguely squeeze ET into makes me feel a great deal less confident about your evaluation. It will be what it will be. I hope we get a definitive answer one way or another in any case.
Comment icon #20 Posted by nuclearwessel on 22 January, 2016, 17:22
A pretty good and reasonable theory, though.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Dr.Brian on 25 January, 2016, 20:31
Yes, this is just a hypothesis and will take a couple of years as each comet gets near to test. Someone from JPL stated that this was a laughable attempt at explaining this and Paris is putting on about his idea. I certainly hope he is wrong even though this will mean the signal will have no explanation. I've always wanted to visit the location where it happened, that was until I found out that the "Big Ear" was bulldozed years ago. However, the Perkins Observatory has looked out for its former neighbor and still has a small collection of items from the Ohio State University Ra... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 26 January, 2016, 23:05
Actually a starship is a possibility. Any plausible starship engine is going to be producing a lot of electromagnetic radiation and if its engine happens to be pointed at Earth it might well show up as a strong signal. This is of course just speculation, but it is not as out there as it might at first seem like... When I say plausible engine I am not counting things like wormholes or warp drive, since they might well be impossible in the first place. On the other hand an engine powered by laser sail, fusion or anti matter are possible (at least we know they can be done in theory) and they sh... [More]

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