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Alien Life: Extragalactic Wow Radio Signal Mystery Solved After Forty Years

Update Date: Jun 08, 2017 07:46 PM EDT
Alien life
Researchers say they have a theory about what caused the famous Alien Wow! Signal. Here's an update on this alien life mystery. (Photo : YouTube / Beyond Science )

One simple question which may arise on everyone's mind, is whether humans are the only symbol of life in this vast universe or there may be some other world existing with the sign of alien life. From the practical point of view, it's very strange if Earth is the only host of life, which means there are some possibilities for the existence of another habitable planet with a civilized world.

To find the proper evidence about the existence of alien life, researchers conducted a project to find extragalactic radio sources for direct communication with them. This project is known as Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which began in 1973, just after the Ohio Sky Survey during 1965 to 1971. In this project, astronomers used a Kraus-type radio telescope located on the grounds of the Perkins Observatory, which is known as Big Ear.

Alien Life: Discovery Of The Extragalactic WOW Signal

The Ohio State University Radio Observatory was used as a part of the university's extraterrestrial hunting SETI mission. Construction of the Big Ear began in 1956 and was completed in 1961 and it was finally turned on for the first time in 1963.

From 1973-1995, Big Ear was used to search for extraterrestrial radio signals, making it the longest running SETI project in history. In Aug. of 1977, Jerry Ehman a SETI volunteer recorded an unusual 72-second signal and discovered the alphanumeric sequence 6EQUJ5 and scrawled the comment "Wow!" Later, this sequence is widely known as the WOW signal and researchers recorded that it was transmitted at a 1,420 MHz frequency.

End Of Misconception About WOW Signal

In 1959, two physicists from Cornell University named Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi speculated about the convenient frequency range for extragalactic communication.They claimed that any extraterrestrial civilization attempting to communicate via radio signals might choose the signal frequency at 1420 megahertz.

They emphasized that the frequency is very convenient because the same frequency is also emitted during the electromagnetic radiation of hydrogen, which is called hydrogen line. Hydrogen is a very common element in the universe and feasible technologically for advanced civilizations.

After comparing the transmitting frequency of WOW, signal scientists were seen to have misunderstood it with some kind of message signal. However, different research teams gave multiple opinions, but none could offer a valid argument. However, a team at The Center for Planetary Science suggested that the signal might have been transmitted from a hydrogen cloud accompanying a comet.

According to Phys.org, the research team found two comets at the same part of the sky that the Big Ear was monitoring. Those comets P/2008 Y2(Gibbs) and 266/P Christensen which were not discovered yet. Fortunately, researchers got a chance to discover those comets while they started their observation of the night sky from Nov. 2016 through Feb. of 2017.

After the discovery of those comets, researchers tracked radio signal from 266/P Christensen, which has a similar frequency that discovered in WOW signal forty years ago. For verification purposes, they also tested three other comets, from which they also got a similar result. However, they are not confirmed that the signal actually was generated by 266/P Christensen but assured that the signal was generated by a comet.

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