Weird radio signals are coming from small read star that is located about 11 light-years from Earth and astronomers are not exactly sure what is their cause
While scientists in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Observatory observed red dwarfs, in May they picked up some odd, unique radio waves, coming from the location of the Ross 128 star. They first thought their source is the red dwarf, but this wave patterns don’t really match regular red dwarf’s waves. Those signals appeared to be coming from deep space according to Abel Méndez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and his team.
This situation left scientists very confused as they had no certain explanation. One of options is that the signals are coming form Ross 128, due to its solar flares as it is very active star. But still flare signals are usually at much lower frequencies than these. The waves could be coming from something else within the field of view of Ross 128. “So right now we don’t have a theory to say how this star could do this,” says Méndez.
Scientists are not ruling out a local source. And the unusual thing is that they can’t tell whether the origin is on our planet or in the space. The signal could be caused by the radio interference, but it would be easy recognized. According to Mendez, it could also be one of the satellites, but that would be weird as not one satellite has ever send signals similar to these. “Interference can bounce between the mountains and buildings and cause strange things,” he says. “Never like this, though.”
The thing that assured scientists that signal is coming from the space is that every wave has its own frequency . Usually waves used for communication on Earth have only one frequency. Signals from Ross 128 had many different frequencies and each wave arrived at different time.
That indicates that signal has been traveling for a large period of time through space. Radio waves traveling here will sometimes run into small particles in interstellar space which will slow the low frequency waves, and result in them getting to Earth later than the ones with high frequency. That effect is called dispersion. The Ross 128 signals were also affected by the dispersion.
Solar flares have a kind of signature, and that is how scientists recognize them, and know what to expect. But this signal did not have that type of signature, so it could some new type of solar flare. And in the end there is always option where aliens sent those signals, but Méndez addressed that saying that explanation is “at the bottom of many other better explanations.”
On Sunday we might get some answers as the team at Arecibo will have another chance to observe the star after two moths. They will examine the new data this week and they hope the results will be revealed this They are assured that new data will help them find the source. And when they find where they come from they will provide us with the cause of the radio waves. Méndez concluded a story with: “We’re rushing this because we want to know.”