A signal detected by a Chinese telescope and originally reported as possible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence is almost certainly due to human factors, said one of the project’s researchers.
The signal, detected by the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), was reported this week by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology newspaper, Science and Technology Daily, which said it detected “a possible technological traces of extraterrestrials”. civilizations”. However, researcher Dan Werthimer of the University of California, Berkeley told Live Science that the signals came “from [human] radio interference, not aliens.
FAST is a huge, extremely sensitive terrestrial telescope that picks up radio signals from different points in the sky. It is used for research on SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) by looking for technosignatures, which are signals that are said to be produced by the technology of distant civilizations.
FAST sifts through huge amounts of data to search for evidence of technosignatures, but there are difficulties resulting from its sensitivity. Curtin University SETI researcher Danny Price, who was not involved in the FAST research, explained in The Conversation that because FAST is so sensitive, it will pick up signals from many sources and is susceptible to detecting radio interference. . He warned the public to “stay intrigued, but don’t get too excited” when they hear about possible signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
The signal detected by FAST had been particularly interesting because it was in a narrow band, which is unusual for natural sources. But one of the Chinese researchers, Tong-Jie Zhang, also warned in Science and Technology Daily that the possibility that the detected signal was radio interference was “very high”.
This is because there are so many radio signals emitted on Earth that it is very difficult to avoid them all. “The big problem, and the problem in this particular case, is that we’re looking for signals from extraterrestrials, but what we find are a million signals from terrestrials,” Werthimer told Live Science. “These are very weak signals, but the cryogenic receivers in telescopes are super sensitive and can pick up signals from cell phones, TV, radar and satellites – and there are more and more satellites in the sky every day. day. “
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