Mysterious Light Pulse From Planet Gliese 581g - Alien Signal?
By Denise Chow | space.com
The recent discovery of Gliese 581g, an alien planet in the habitable zone of another star, has been an exciting development for scientists probing the galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life. At least one claim of a possible signal from the planet has already surfaced – and been met with harsh skepticism among the science community.
Following the Sept. 29 announcement of the discovery of Gliese 581g, astronomer Ragbir Bhathal, a scientist at the University of Western Sydney, claimed to have detected a suspicious pulse of light nearly two years ago, that came from the same area of the galaxy as the location of Gliese 581g, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail online.
Bhathal is a member of the Australian chapter of SETI, a non-profit scientific organization that is dedicated to research, exploration and education in the field of astrobiology.
"Whenever there's a clear night, I go up to the observatory and do a run on some of the celestial objects," Bhathal told the Daily Mail. "Looking at one of these objects, we found this signal. We found this very sharp signal, sort of a laser lookalike thing which is the sort of thing we're looking for – a very sharp spike. And that is what we found."
Still, there are some scientists who are skeptical of Bhathal's assertion.
"I know the scientist, and when he first announced it, I asked him for the details, and he wouldn't send them to me," astronomer and SETI pioneer Frank Drake told SPACE.com. "I'm very suspicious."
Drake is credited with conducting the first search for signals from extraterrestrial intelligences 50 years ago as part of what was then called Project Ozma. He coined the famed Drake Equation to calculate the number (N) of alien civilizations with whom we might be able to communicate
Further study would perhaps confirm or deny the supposed observation, but Drake thinks that the claim is likely a dubious one.
Strange signal, or phantom?
Bhathal claimed to have detected the puzzling signal in Dec. 2008, almost two years before researchers announced the Gliese 581g finding, and long before it was announced that habitable planets were found orbiting the star Gliese 581 itself.
"I'm not aware of the location that was claimed for the source of that light, and [Bhathal] refused to tell me where it came from," Drake said. "I think it's very unlikely that it came from the direction of Gliese 581."
Gliese 581g is one of two new worlds that was discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581, which is located about 20.5 light-years from Earth. In total, there is a family of six planets that has been found around Gliese 581. [Tour the six Gliese 581 planets.]
Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, and his colleague Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced the Gliese 581g finding in a press conference held by the National Science Foundation on Sept. 29.
About Gliese 581g
While there are six planets known to orbit around the parent star, Gliese 581g is the only one in the so-called habitable zone – a region where liquid water can exist. Astronomers have long-thought that the presence of liquid water, which accompanies life on Earth, could be a major ingredient for life on other worlds.
Observations have shown that Gliese 581g is between three and four times the mass of Earth. While it is larger than our planet, it is still classified as a nearly Earth-sized world. Its radius is between 1.3 and two times the size of Earth, scientists have said.
The planet has not been officially named yet (nor have any other worlds in the Gliese 581 system). But Vogt has given it the nickname "Zarmina's World," in honor of his wife.
SETI Picks Up Regular Laser Pulse Emanating From Space
Astrophysicist Ragbir Bhathal works with SETI to scan the skies for possible communications from extraterrestrial intelligences. Unlike most SETI facilities, which look for radio signals, Bhathal's looks for laser pulses. And now he's found one.
Several years ago Bhathal, a researcher at the University of Western Sydney, suggested that a likely form of extraterrestrial communication would be laser bursts. He set up a facility at his lab which sweeps a nearby volume of space, within about 100 light years, for laser bursts that come in a regular pattern. Any kind of communication would likely be distinguished from background noise by coming in repeated or non-random patterns.
And a few months ago, Bhathal found the kind of regular pattern he's been looking for. He's been analyzing it and seeking a repeat pattern in the same area of space ever since. Though he's cautious about claiming it as a genuine extraterrestrial signal, his discovery has been making local news. Read all about it in The Australian.
Odds of Life on Newfound Earth-Size Planet "100 Percent," Astronomer Says (Approaching disclosure?)
Latest News from our Front Page
Obama Administration Likely to Block New Redskins Stadium
The Obama administration will likely block Washington, D.C., authorities from building a new stadium for the NFLâ€™s Washington Redskins because of objections to the teamâ€™s name.
The National Park Service (NPS) owns the land under the 54-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, a venue two miles east of the Capitol that hosted the Redskins from 1961 to 1996. Some city leaders ...
Safe spaces, white tears and getting kicked out of a women's group - by two men
Lately I've been kicked out of a couple of groups I belong to, for daring to question received wisdom or refusing to go along with the rules of identity politics.
For instance, I was thrown out my university women's group -- by two men! -- for questioning an article on Jezebel about "cultural appropriation."
They explained that the group was supposed to ...
Ghost rider in the sky: Scientists use lasers to project movie onto clouds
A green ghost rider appeared in the sky over the British city of Nottingham when scientists started testing a newly developed projecting device which allows the beaming of moving images directly onto clouds for the first time ever.
The image of a galloping horse rider was projected onto the clouds from a distance of 50 meters by a special laser-based projection ...
Chinaâ€™s stock market is crashing, and the Chinese are trying to do the exact same thing America did in 1929
â€˜While European attention is focused on Greece, China is having a serious market meltdown.
After exploding earlier in the year because of deregulation, Chinaâ€™s benchmark Shanghai Composite has collapsed a crazy 29% since the highs of early June. Chinaâ€™s other stock markets have had similarly steep falls.
Bloomberg notes that the crisis is closely mirroring the 1929 Wall Street crash, which led ...
Oregon Is First State to Charge Drivers for Each Mile They Drive
When he's not riding his bicycle, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, said he's driving a fuel-efficient hybrid, and that's a problem, because it means he's not paying his "fair share" for highway maintenance.
Blumenauer says that's why he signed up for OReGO, the nation's first program to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive.
The program launched on ...
|More News » |