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The Wow! Signal and it's 40 years of mystery.



Do extraterrestrial things fancy you? They do fancy me. I believe in aliens too. Many times I had this arguments with my friends, "Why do I believe in aliens?". "There is no proof of any extraterrestrial living body", they said. I said, "We are the biggest and the strongest proof that the aliens exist". If earth can exist, if we can exist, if all the living bodies on the earth exist, there is definitely a solar system with a star just like sun. In that solar system there is definitely a planet just like our earth. In fact, any solar system can have a planet just like earth. It only has to be in the perfect spot, at a perfect distance from its star to be able to create and support life on it. And while these conditions are perfect for us humans and animals on planet earth, there could be living bodies that can survive harsh conditions that we cannot. May be they can't survive the conditions in which we live in. I completely refuse to believe that we are the only one in this entire universe.


Until now only 4% of space have been discovered by our scientists. And that too only the visible space. Space where our telescopes can't reach is still to be found and we don't know how big that is gonna be. You want to understand how big the universe is? Then just think about a point where the universe starts and where it ends. It will give you most of the answers.


So, this blog is about an extraterrestrial thing. It is called The Wow! Signal.


Image source: wikipedia


The Wow! Signal was a very strong narrowband radio signal. On 15th August 1977 this signal was received by the Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope in Columbus, Ohio, USA. This radio telescope was used to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It appeared that The Wow! Signal came from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius and it contained hallmarks of some extraterrestrial origin.


This was discovered by the astronomer Jerry R. Ehman. He was so impressed by the result anomaly a few days later while he was reviewing the data that he circled the reading on the computer printout, "6EQUJ5" and wrote Wow! alongside it. This comment gave this signal the name The Wow! Signal.


I don't know how long this signal was but there was a complete 72 second window during which the Big Ear was able to record it. This signal has not been detected since then. Ehman and others made several attempts to find it again but no success. There are many hypotheses about the origin of the signal. Those hypotheses include human-made, natural and alien-made sources but unfortunately none of them could explain the signal.


It was June 2010 when I joined Twitter. I had been reading about all extraterrestrial things since I got introduced to the internet. The Wow! Signal always fantasized me. In 2012, I found out that Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was going to beam a digital signal towards the area from where the Wow! signal originated. They were going to transmit twitter messages with the hashtag #chasingUFOs. I sent a twitter message too. National Geographic Channel was sponsoring the transmission. Along with mine and several others on earth, there were several video messages of many celebrities were also transmitted.


Now the time for the disappointing news!!

After 40 years since the signal's discovery, it was suggested that the signal was most likely generated by a comet and not by some extraterrestrial beings. Antonio Paris, a professor of astronomy at St. Petersburg College in Florida suggested this. Professor Paris and his team learned that two comets, 266/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs), were passing through the part of the sky the Big Ear was surveying in 1977. It was at that time The Wow! Signal was discovered. Professor Paris and his team of astronomers believe that the signal came from a hydrogen cloud accompanying one of the comet. This is the strong idea that would explain why The Wow! Signal was not noticed again. The comet that caused it moved on in its orbit.


40 years after the discovery of The Wow! Signal, in 2017, professor Paris tried to survey the region of the sky around Sagittarius once again. He used a 10 meter radio telescope, when comet 266P/Christensen was again passing through the same region. They determined that the signal of 266P/Christensen and other three comets matched The Wow! Signal. This time the signal was weaker than the original Wow! Signal measured in 1977 because the radio telescope they used was smaller than the Big Ear. Another reason was that the comets lose mass as they pass into the inner solar system. Both the comets were bigger 40 years ago.


Professor Paris admits that it is not yet certain that The Wow! Signal was generated by Comet 266P/Christensen. However, his team concludes that the original 1977 signal was just a natural phenomenon generated by a comet.


Such a disappointing news. But search for extraterrestrial intelligence still continues. I hope someday we'll meet or at least see aliens. I hope they want to behave like Jaadu and not Independence Day.


Happy Aliens day!!! Whenever it is.

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