Scientist ‘Worked Out’ Extraterrestrial Signal Sent To Earth In 1977

An extraterrestrial signal was sent to Earth in 1977 - now known as Wow! - and finally, a scientist believes they've 'worked out' what it was. 
Credit: Alamy & Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American Astrophysical Observatory

An extraterrestrial signal was sent to Earth in 1977 and finally, a scientist believes they’ve ‘worked out’ what it was. 

Last month, the House of Representatives in the US held a landmark panel on UFOs and ever since the possibility of extraterrestrial life has been a hot topic of discussion.

During the bombshell hearing, witnesses expressed their concerns over UFOs, with some insisting they are a potential national security threat.

However, the discussion of UFOs and alien life has always been around and in 1977, a mysterious radio signal was received by a radio telescope on Earth.

All these years later, it is still considered one of the most likely candidates for an alien origin.

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To be specific, it took place on August 15 at 11:16pm and the signal lasted a reported one minute and 12 seconds.

It was detected by the Big Ear radio telescope and it was named ‘Wow!’ by astronomer Jerry Ehman when he saw its printout. He circled it and penned ‘wow’, giving it its name.

Over the years, many have speculated what this radio signal could be – with some saying it’s aliens trying to make contact across the vastness of space.

While others have argued that it’s most likely a star, with some type of particular wave pattern coming through.

But a whole new theory about what the signal could be has now come to light.

Wow! signal.
The Wow! signal has remained a mystery for decades. Credit: Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American Astrophysical Observatory

Antonio Paris, an adjunct professor of astronomy at St Petersburg College, Florida, is a former analyst of the US Department of Defense.

He and his team have carried out research in which they have scanned the sky around where the signal took place over 40 years ago.

In this particular region, they found that Comet 266P/Christensen passed through.

The team found that the readings from this happened to match those made from the Wow! signal all those years ago.

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Interestingly, it was noticed that the indications were much smaller than the signals detected in 1977, which does sync up with how comets lose mass over time.

So ultimately, Paris has suggested that neither were aliens nor stars responsible for the Wow! signal and most likely, it was Comet 266P/Christensen and another comet named 335P/Gibbs.

In 2016, the professor told ABC News that the signal was caused by ‘two comets in the very same area at the same time and the same date’.

He commented: “Astronomically speaking, when you look at the universe, for these things to all be in the same place, it’s one in a billion.”

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Written by Aimee Walker

Aimee is a senior content editor at IGV who specialises in finding the best original stories, trending topics and entertainment news. She graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Media and Communications.