A group of
Russian astronomers last year detected what appeared to be a
non-naturally occurring radio signal in the general location of
a star system 94 light-years from Earth.
Their findings emerged after Italian researcher Claudio Maccone,
who chairs the International Academy of Astronautics committee
on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, told
colleagues of a presentation he heard about the signal, said
Seth Shostak, a director at the SETI Institute.
"I don't think we're taking it terribly seriously," Shostak
said. "The Russians looked in this direction 39 times, and as
best we can tell they found it once."
Most likely, the radio signal was caused by terrestrial
interference or a satellite, a common occurrence, Shostak told
If the Russians thought they had a serious signal from ET, he
said, they also likely would have disclosed it sooner.
"They didn't say anything about it for more than year. If we had
found a signal, we'd check it out and call up other astronomers
to check it out as well," Shostak said.
Nevertheless, SETI astronomers have spent the last two nights
using an array of radio telescopes in California to study the
suspect star, HD 164595, which has one known planet in orbit.
The planet is about the size of Neptune, but circles its star
far closer than Mercury orbits the sun. HD 164595 could have
other planets in orbit that are more suitably positioned for
water, which is believed to be necessary for life.
So far, though, astronomers have not detected any unusual
signals from the star, Shostak said.
"We have to be very careful not to get cynical about false
alarms," he said. "It's easy to say 'Aw man, it's just another
case of interference,' but that risks not paying attention when
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Frances
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