Scientists know what that ‘weird’ signal was

Weird Signal
The “Weird! Signal” from Ross 128, detected on May 12, is highlighted by the red box in this chart of frequency signal strength over time. (PHL @ UPR Arecibo)

A week ago, astronomers using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico were intrigued about a radio signal they picked up in May, apparently from the vicinity of the red dwarf star Ross 128. Now they think they know what it was.

Spoiler alert: It’s not aliens.

To gather more evidence about the source of the quasi-periodic signal, astronomers took a closer look at the star on July 16 – not only with the 1,000-foot-wide Arecibo Observatory, but with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array in California.

“We are now confident about the source of the ‘Weird! Signal,’” Abel Mendez, a planetary astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, said today in an update.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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