In the light of this week's focus on space news, Mr. R.B. sent along this article and I have to pass it along to the readership here. It seems scientists at Canada's Laval University have done a very intriguing study of the signals emanating from 234 star systems. Why just 234? We'll get to that in a moment. Here's the article:
As the article notes, the reason for the selection of just 234 stars is their similarity to our own Sun. Most of us have read about those recent news items the past few years where various planets in the "vicinity" of a few light years are prime candidates for the possibility of harboring life, perhaps even intelligent life. But this study is different in focusing on the types of stars themselves, and the signals originating from their systems:
What we’re talking about here is a new study from E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, two astronomers at Laval University in Canada. Their study, titled “Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars” was just published at arXiv.org. ArXiv.org is a pre-print website, so the paper itself hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. But it is generating interest.
The two astronomers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and analyzed the spectra of 2.5 million stars. Of all those stars, they found 234 stars that are producing a puzzling signal. That’s only a tiny percentage. And, they say, these signals “have exactly the shape of an ETI signal” that was predicted in a previous study by Borra.
The authors acknowledge five potential causes of their findings: instrumental and data reduction effects, rotational transitions in molecules, the Fourier transform of spectral lines, rapid pulsations, and finally the ETI signal predicted by Borra (2012). They dismiss molecules or pulsations as causes, and they deem it highly unlikely that the signals are caused by the Fourier analysis itself. This leaves two possible sources for the detected signals. Either they’re a result of the Sloan instrument itself and the data reduction, or they are in fact a signal from extra-terrestrial intelligences.
"So what?" you might say. "Where's the high octane speculation in all that? And besides, who cares? They're light-years away."
Bear with me for a moment while we consider the methodology here: it isn't all that unusual. In fact, I remain at a loss to figure out why no one has attempted it before now. And that point brings me to the high octane speculation. Suppose someone had done it, secretly, before now, in a kind of "secret SETI" project? After all, the idea of such secret "space mapping" isn't all that new. In fact, NASA did it shortly after its foundation when it commissioned a Top Secret telescopic mapping program of the Moon.
If this were done some time ago in connection with certain types of stars emitting regular periodic laser signals, then this would bear with it a huge implication, namely, that aside from any alleged secretive "contact" event, scientists would have had a rough idea where any putative ETIs were from or where they might be based.
So the bottom line for me here is that we might be looking at yet another form of "limited hangout" position, a kind of limited "disclosure," which, when taken in the context of the other stories I've been blogging about the past few days, might be hugely significant.
And that, finally, brings us to President Obama's Space Weather Executive Order.
But for that, we'll have to wait until tomorrow.
See you on the flip side...