Scientists have pointed two state-of-the-art telescopes towards the approximate location in the constellation Sagittarius where the famous Wow! Signal originated from.
Over the past few years, humankind has intercepted hundreds of “signals” from deep space. We call the signals Fast Radio Bursts or FRBs for short. We don’t really know what exactly they are, where they come from, and what causes them. But we have several theories. One of them its that the come from aliens, but that is a long shot. While FRB signals are extremely interesting and represent a genuine cosmic mystery, one of the most mysterious signals we have ever spotted was in 1977. It was the famous Wow! Signal. Since technology is better now than it was decades ago, its a good idea to search the sky with modern equipment. And that is just what scientists did. They used two state-of-the-art telescopes and pointed them to the approximate location where the Wow! Signal originated from.
Combining the power of two telescopes
In an attempt to discover the origin of the famed cosmic signal, researchers combined two telescopes. The enigmatic signal made global headlines some 45 years ago because it was something that we had never before seen. In fact, at the time, some astronomers said the characteristics of the signal were something that could possibly be linked to an intelligent origin. Although the investigation of the Wow signal proved inconclusive this time, the research team expressed optimism about future efforts to find intelligent alien life. The project collaborator Wael Farah told Space.com that the data from Gaia will even be used to find more sun-like stars near the signal.
More suns worth studying
The Wow signal uncertainty region is not the only area affected by this. In an email to space.com, Farah wrote that it extends to areas with high stellar densities, such as the galactic center and disc of the galaxy. In research published in May, a sun-like star 1,800 light-years away was identified as a possible signal zone in the constellation Sagittarius. You can read more about this in an article I covered earlier. In a Sept. 29 release about the research, Karen Perez, a graduate student at Columbia University, said this is the first targeted search for the Wow signal. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute conducted it as part of its Breakthrough Listen program.
The Wow! Signal
An intense radio signal was sent from space on Aug. 15, 1977. It was eventually dubbed Wow! Signal. No repeat signal has been detected since that eventful evening 45 years ago, despite its regular pattern during a brief period of time. (Wow!” is the word a researcher scrawled on the printout showing the signal.) The Green Bank Telescope and Allen Telescope Array were the first two telescopes funded by SETI to work together to search for extraterrestrial life. Green Bank made two 30-minute observations on May 21, and ATA made six five-minute observations on the same day. SETI said in a statement that their observations overlapped for almost 10 minutes.
According to Farah, a postdoctoral researcher at ATA, the telescope’s wide field of view and other capabilities will enable “many more sources to be identified and studied simultaneously with the instrument.” Therefore, future region searches may reveal more candidate stars where the signal originated. An article based on this research was published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society. Visit this SETI site for open data regarding the search.