Now, exoplanets simply mean that a planet which is located beyond our solar system. Recently, an international team of scientists has collected the first possible radio signal from a planet beyond our solar system and these radio signals were emanating from an exoplanet system, which is about 51 light-years away from our solar system. So this was done using a Low-Frequency Array and it covered radio missions burst from the Tou Bootes Star System. Now, this Low-Frequency Array or LOFAR is a large radio telescope network which is located in the Netherlands.
Importance Of Observation
So regarding the importance of such an observation, it is said that observing an exoplanet's magnetic field helps the astronomers decipher a planet's interior and atmospheric properties, as well as the physics of this star-planet interaction.
So basically, it will help the astronomers in learning about the interior as well as the atmospheric properties of the planet and also how that planet is interacting with its parent star. Now, we know that Earth's magnetic field protects it from the solar wind dangers and keeps our planet habitable. And accordingly, the magnetic field of earth-like exoplanets may contribute to the possible habitability by shielding their own atmospheres from solar wind and cosmic rays and protecting the planet from atmospheric loss. Now, what this means is that we already know that the Earth's magnetic field is protecting the Earth from solar flares and accordingly, if we find that such a magnetic field is being emanated from an exoplanet, this means that the magnetic field might also be saving that particular planet and accordingly, it increases the possibility of that planet being habitable.
So these magnetic fields play an important role in protecting the atmosphere of a planet, as it is doing in the case of Earth. So accordingly, the scientists are saying that such magnetic field detection might be protecting the atmosphere of the exoplanets as well, and this increases the possibility of finding life on such planets.
All of this is based on a story that came out in The Guardian, and it's also based on what seems to be a week from the actual scientists themselves or possibly from one of the researchers that just couldn't hold it. The idea here is that we may have detected yet another unusual signal coming from an extremely close exoplanet resistant to us. The system Proxima Centauri has the nearest terrestrial planet in the habitable zone and this signal is very reminiscent of the 1977 signal known as the Wow! signal that is even today not particularly understood very well because we haven't really been able to detect it again.
In other words, a potential detection of maybe a techno signature, but most likely something that actually came from planet Earth or we just couldn't identify what it is just yet. And the reason this is so exciting is because it's coming from the world's biggest techno signature investigation project known as Breakthrough Listen. The incredible project that was started five years ago by some really prominent people and the idea here was to essentially fund as many possible listening hours on various radio telescopes as possible. But obviously, in our search for extraterrestrial intelligence somewhere out there, we've already discovered a lot of potential signals that were later on found to be nothing more but signals from planet Earth or even signals from a common microwave known as the Periton
So what exactly makes this particular detection special and why are we even talking about it?
It seems to be coming from Proxima Centauri because when the scientists were looking at a different location slightly away from Proxima Centauri, the signal disappeared. We know that Proxima Centauri system is extremely interesting despite this being a red dwarf, it contains at least one planet in the habitable zone, the planet we refer to as proximity and it does contain another planet known as proximacy and that's much, much farther away from the star and most likely is some sort of a frozen terrestrial world or maybe some sort of frozen ice joint. Either way, there are at least two planets here, but possibly even three and a distance of 4.26 Light years away from us. This is as close as it gets. So having a planet in the habitable zone and so close to us is always exciting for us.
Back in 2019, scientists were using this beautiful Australian observatory known as the Parkes Observatory, actually one of the most famous radio telescopes out there to try to investigate potential emissions coming from the planet simply because they were studying the ridiculously powerful flares coming from the Proxima Centauri star in order for us to really understand how this affects the planets. So by studying the radio signals from the flares, we might be able to get an idea of how powerful these flares are and how likely the planet might actually still have, for example, atmosphere and water. But luckily for us, or I guess surprisingly for us, one of the signals coming from the system was very similar to what we normally detect from planet Earth when it comes to basically just techno signature (i.e) Signatures of technology.
So, for example, compared to, let's say, a fast radio burst, which was also a mysterious signal that we're still kind of trying to solve, where normally you'll see several different frequencies in the signal itself and various FRBs will have different frequencies. What's unusual about this particular signal from Proxima Centauri is that it seems to be similar to a single tone of a single frequency of exactly 982 MHz, or actually 982.002 MHz. And that's extremely precise and doesn't seem to change or modulate in any way. In other words, the signal doesn't seem to contain information, but it does seem to be unnaturally flat, unnaturally constant that is, which currently just does not have any explanation.
Now, before we continue, though, a quick clarification. Normally, and this is what actually happened to all of these signals that were detected in the past. In most cases, the signals turn out to be, for example, flying satellites right above the point where we're looking at, and in many cases, these are either radio communications satellites or in some cases military satellites that have some sort of a secret technology on board. But in this particular case, the frequency doesn't seem to be associated with anything that we currently have in space, unless, of course, it is some sort of maybe secret Chinese satellite for all we know. At the same time, because these satellite dishes are so sensitive, even a tiny radio transmitter from somewhere nearby could actually accidentally produce these fake signals. This has happened many times before and at the moment this is still a possibility. It just at this point, nobody knows what exactly could have produced this specific signal. But because the signature of the signal is extremely similar to what we normally produce here on planet Earth, it seems to be unnatural in the sense that it's produced by some sort of technology maybe. We just cannot make an assumption yet that it actually came from Proxima Centauri simply because there is still a chance it was basically maybe captured by something that was passing overhead or something that was nearby, very close to the satellite dish.
Now, the press release does mention that at least four signals were detected, but some may have been just the radio interference and this was over a period of several days. So if there was something hanging over this area, for example, in outer space, it could have been maybe a geostationary object. But at this point, we don't really know and we cannot really assume this, because when they tried to look at this location very recently, nothing was actually discovered there. So if it was an actual signal coming from, for example, space from maybe a satellite that was there, it may have shifted locations and is most likely not there anymore and it was by some unusual chance, this was a signal coming from Proxima Centauri, which is a big, big if. In this case, if someone just turned it off. It's no longer emitting anything anymore. But once again, this is a really big if and very likely is going to be proven in the next few years to be something most likely artificial made by humans and that was just emitting the signals in this particular frequency.
Now, just for fun, I actually tried to look up, if anything that we know doesn't match 982 MHz and except for this particular study that investigated these very unique lasers that are u+sed in communication that do emit frequency by essentially blinking the lasers at a frequency of about 982 MHz, there was really nothing else I discovered and these particular lasers also have a very unique application in essentially fibre communication. I'm not entirely sure if there is some sort of a fibre that might have been causing this, maybe some sort of a cable connection close to the satellite dish. But for all we know, this could have been actually one of the possible explanations, because if you remember five years ago and the explanation for the so-called Periton signals was the microwave oven that was actually located not so far from the Parkes Observatory. So the previous unknown radio signals from this observatory were nothing more, but someone just opening the microwave oven a little bit too soon. But the reason so many scientists are going to be very eagerly awaiting these scientific papers to come out is really because even when there is a tiny, tiny possibility that it is aliens, everyone is going to try to investigate this simply because a lot of our scientists really depends on this, depends on discovering extraterrestrial intelligence somewhere out there. But in all of the previous attempts so far, it's been just something very easily explainable, such as, for example, pulsars. And for all we know, maybe this particular discovery will actually lead to a discovery of a new phenomenon we've never known, existed around various exoplanets before. But that's not all. There's actually something else that was really interesting about this discovery coming from the tiny pieces of information that were thrown to us by whoever leaked the information to begin with.
So it turns out that the signal itself was also slightly blue shifted or essentially its frequency was increasing a little bit, suggesting that it was moving towards the planet Earth. Or at least that's just one of the implications. It just means that the signal is moving closer to us because the frequency is going up. Now, this blue shifting is very well understood, so we can actually figure out how fast it's moving. But until the papers come out, we're not going to be able to know anything about it. And also, unless we actually see the signal again and unless we're able to somehow detect it from exactly the same location as we found before, we're not going to be able to confirm this as a techno signature or any kind of an interesting alien signature. It is just going to remain as a potential disturbance from something else terrestrial that we just couldn't figure out. Now, like I said before, 982 MHz is not a very well used frequency. It's not something we normally use on Earth. But it could also be just someone's broken radio, someone's cell phone not functioning properly, or a plethora of other things that do produce radio frequencies in that specific way, especially because we know in the past very similar signals have been detected and already discredited as something that was basically produced by a device on planet Earth.
Nevertheless, the signal has officially been given the designation BLC-1, which stands for Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1, because this is the first time we've ever found a signal that has sort of passed all of the other filters. It's exciting enough for us to do a lot of follow up studies and to try to discover what actually produced this, after all.
Now, probably not Aliens but at this point, I'm sure a lot of scientists are going to put a lot of research into this to find "Who truly did it and what actually caused this? "