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Mystery signal picked up from Proxima Centauri

Posted on Friday, 18 December, 2020 | Comment icon 92 comments

An artist's impression of exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Image Credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser
Astronomers are currently investigating a signal coming from the direction of our closest neighboring star system.
The signal, which was reportedly picked up by the Parkes telescope in Australia last year, is now being investigated by researchers from the Breakthrough Listen Project - a $100 million initiative dedicated to the search for evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial communications.

According to reports, it appears to have come from the Proxima Centauri system - the nearest star system to our own and home to two planets including one that could potentially support life.

At the moment it remains unclear what might have produced the signal and astronomers have so far failed to find a conventional source.

Believed to have been picked up in the 980MHz range, the signal is particularly tantalising because it seems to shift in frequency in a manner consistent with the movement of a planet.
It has been described as "the first serious candidate since the 'Wow!' signal."

Breakthrough Listen itself was launched back in 2016 and received the blessings of late physicist Prof Stephen Hawking who described the work it was doing as "critically important."

"Mankind has a deep need to explore, to learn, to know," he said at the time.

"It is important for us to know if we are alone in the dark."

Could the Proxima Centauri signal be evidence that we are not ?

Source: Mail Online | Comments (92)

Tags: Proxima Centauri

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #83 Posted by bison on 23 January, 2021, 18:13
We read that Proxima Centauri's Earth-like planet-- Planet B -- orbits Proxima every 11.2 days, and that it is tidally locked to the star.  Hence, it  always presents the same side to it. So, the planet has, by our standards, very long days. but very short years, both of the same length. Drawing on the fact that the Proxima signal was received for five days, we have another interesting coincidence. A transmitter on the surface of Planet B  would very probably have an unobstructed look at Earth for about half of its period of revolution, as it turned in our direction. The rest of the time, its ... [More]
Comment icon #84 Posted by Nuclear Wessel on 24 January, 2021, 12:26
If there really is intelligent life on that planet which is responsible for the signal (assuming it is coming from the surface of that planet), I can't even fathom what they would look like.  Absolutely nothing like anything found on Earth, I can be confident in that. I've been keeping my eye on this. Very fascinated.
Comment icon #85 Posted by Not Invented Here on 26 January, 2021, 22:43
Obviously we can only harmlessly speculate, but for what it's worth I would disagree with that. For a start life on earth ranges from slime molds to the Pope and everything in between - so it's not obvious to me that there is much room for something to look "nothing" like anything on earth. Even if they had many more limbs than us then I think it's far more likely we would be saying "oh my gosh they look like an octopus", or otherwise "oh my gosh they look like a millipede". Assuming that their planet was even vaguely similar to ours (ie any or all of: a land surface; liquid oceans; air of som... [More]
Comment icon #86 Posted by Not Invented Here on 26 January, 2021, 22:48
I guess that the longer it takes for the BTL team to add anything more on this, the more likely it is they are struggling to explain it with known phenomena...
Comment icon #87 Posted by godnodog on 26 January, 2021, 23:38
Damn it. It´s videos of cats.
Comment icon #88 Posted by Hyperionxvii on 27 January, 2021, 1:11
Hasn't it already been declared by astrophysicists  that the only earthlike planet in that system is extremely inhospitable to life, mostly because it is constantly bombarded by nasty solar flares from the star (Proxima Centauri) that it orbits? So obviously, there is no one in that system to send any signals out to anyone. I could be wrong, if anyone wants to refute that, I can post the links here backing up what I just said, or prove me wrong.
Comment icon #89 Posted by bison on 27 January, 2021, 4:31
I considered this question in my post # 68, page 3, this thread, on January 9th. Since it seems that the planet Proxima b is inhospitable to life, it had been suggested that it might merely contain an automated radio beacon, and/or relay station, and that this is what was received at the Parkes Observatory, in the Spring of 2019.  
Comment icon #90 Posted by Hyperionxvii on 27 January, 2021, 21:13
Well, anything is possible. But there are not that many stars close to the Centauri system. There might be a few within 10 light years. So now we're talking about a civilization in our neighborhood of the galaxy who have already mastered interstellar travel. The distance are just so vast. If they can travel at least 5 light years to set up a relay, they could probably travel here. 
Comment icon #91 Posted by Hyperionxvii on 27 January, 2021, 22:27
I find it interesting that the other 2 stars in the system are a G type star, like our sun, and an orange dwarf, the two most likely type of stars to support habitable planets. But I suppose neither of those have planets. Too bad the only one that does is a volatile red dwarf.  If either of the other 2 had planets, this would be a much more interesting topic, since they are all less than a light year from each other, I think. I thought it interesting that there is actually both a G and a K star in that system, since they are not that common, both to them only making up 10% of the total stars i... [More]
Comment icon #92 Posted by bison on 28 January, 2021, 0:37
The average distance between Alpha Centauri a  &  b is about 23 AU, the minimum, about 11. This is probably too close to allow stable, habitable zone planetary orbits around either star. A planet might stably orbit the center of gravity of both, but that would place it far outside the habitable zone of such stars. Some red dwarf stars do not flare markedly, and would presumably allow for habitable planets. One reason, as you observe, may be that they eventually age out of a severe flaring stage. Determining the age of red dwarf stars is reported to be very difficult, though. There are seve... [More]

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