The signal “Wow!” could come from a distant sun-like star

An astronomer resumes the debate about the possible origin of the famous and still mysterious “Wow!” captured in the United States 45 years ago from space. IceBased on the work of the Gaia satellite, the researcher suggests that this signal could have been emitted from the near environment of a sun-like star. You will find this object 1,800 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.

August 15, 1977, at 23.16. Astronomer Jerry Ehman of the SETI program has made an intriguing discovery as he points Ohio University’s Big Ear Telescope toward a cluster of stars in the constellation Sagittarius. On the printout of the journals, he notices a mysterious signal 72 seconds on frequency 1.42 GHz, thirty times stronger than the ambient electromagnetic noise. Surprised, he encircles it in red mention “Wow! written next to.

Over the last four decades, many have tried to trace its origins, and some have speculated that it may be an extraterrestrial signal. And because of this, this is integrated in a range of frequencies close to the hydrogen line.

Remember that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It would therefore be logical to guess that an intelligent civilization in our galaxy, eager to draw attention to itself, could emit a strong narrowband signal at or near the neutral line frequency of this element.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The comet hypothesis rejected

About five years ago became working by astronomer Antonio Paris, from Saint Petersburg College in Florida, had then suggested that this famous signal is actually explained by passage of a comet .

According to the astronomer, this then unknown object, now named 266P / Christensenis actually surrounded by a giant cloud of hydrogen gas several million kilometers in diameter, which was the source of the recorded frequency. In addition, orbital analyzes also revealed that the object was actually near Earth at the time.

These results were final rejected a few days later by researchers at the Ohio State University Radio Observatory for three reasons. First, the position of the comet at night for detection was almost fifteen degrees from the position of the “Wow!” Signal. “. Moreoverthe author had not given any spectral comparison between the signal and the comet’s presumed emission. Finally, the Big Ear telescope at the time had two side-by-side radio beams scanning the sky. If the source had been a comet, it should have appeared in both, which it did not.

A target 1,800 light-years away

Now it’s amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero’s turn to restart the debate. Knowing that Big Ear Telescopes’ two receivers were pointing in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius the night the signal took place, the researcher decided to dive into the star catalog for Gaia satellite from the European Space Agency (ESA) to search for possible candidates.

For this study, the researcher focused mainly on objects comparable to our sun. After all, while living organisms can possibly be assessed in a wide variety of environments around different stars, terrestrial life is still our only known example.

During his research, the astronomer would finally have encountered a designated star 2MASS 19281982-2640123. Located approx 1,800 light yearsits location would fit perfectly with the data provided at the time.

Would we have targeted the lucky star? It’s hard to know. Sending a signal back to him would probably not help much given his distance. On the other hand, we could possibly point our telescopes in its direction to examine the presence or not of exoplanets. After all, what are we risking?

Details of the study are published inInternational Journal of Astrobiology .

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