Russian Telescope Detected Strong Mysterious Radio Signal, Kept It Secret For A Year

A Russian telescope detected the signal last year but it was kept secret until a month ago, spurring excitement and debate.

A “strong signal” detected by a radio telescope in Russia could be a communication attempt by an alien civilization, some have suggested, a discovery that has stirred interest among the scientific community over the past few days.

“No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study,” said Paul Gilster of the Centauri Dreams website, which covers peer-reviewed research on deep space exploration.

The signal is from the direction of “HD164595,” a star about 95 light-years from Earth. The star is known to have at least one planet and may have more.

The observation is being made public now, but was actually detected last year by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, Gilster noted.

Experts say it is far too early to know what the signal means or where, precisely, it comes from. “But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target,” Gilster wrote.

The discovery is expected to feature in discussions at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27.

“Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization,” Gilster wrote, referring to a scale system that indicates a civilization far more advanced than our own.

The Kardashev scale was invented by a Soviet astronomer of the same name to categorize various technological stages of civilizations. A Type II civilization would be able to harness the entirety of the energy emitted by its star, billions of billions of watts.

Gilster, who broke the story on Aug. 27, said he had seen a presentation on the matter from Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone. “Permanent monitoring of this target is needed,” said the presentation, according to Gilster.

Astronomers at the global Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, SETI, said they were unimpressed with the signal, however, saying it is most likely caused by natural occurrences.

“I don’t think we’re taking it terribly seriously,” Seth Shostak, a director at the SETI Institute, told Reuters Tuesday. “The Russians looked in this direction 39 times, and as best we can tell they found it once.”

He added that if the Russians thought they had a serious signal from ET they would have disclosed it sooner. “They didn’t say anything about it for more than year,” he said. “If we had found a signal, we’d check it out and call up other astronomers to check it out as well.”

Nevertheless, SETI astronomers have spent the last two nights using an array of radio telescopes in California to study the suspect star, HD 164595.

Nick Suntzeff, a Texas A&M University astronomer, told the online magazine Ars Technica that the 11 gigahertz signal was observed in part of the radio spectrum used by the military. “If this were a real astronomical source, it would be rather strange,” Suntzeff said.

“God knows who or what broadcasts at 11 Ghz, and it would not be out of the question that some sort of bursting communication is done between ground stations and satellites,” he added. “I would follow it if I were the astronomers, but I would also not hype the fact that it may be at SETI signal given the significant chance it could be something military.”

Originally taken from

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