Astronomers have picked up “strange signals” on the massive Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico, Business Insider reports.

The signals are coming from a small dwarf star 11 light years away called Ross 128. It is 2,800 times dimmer than our sun, and it has no known orbiting planets. At Arecibo, they are currently searching for planets around neighboring Stars including Gliese 436, Wolf 359, and K2-18.

On May 12, Ross 128 emitted radio signals at a much higher frequency than is typically seen from stars. They were almost periodic and appeared to be dispersed out in all directions.

In a blog post on Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL), astrobiologist Abel Méndez at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo writes, “we have never seen satellites emit bursts like that.”

“We realized that there were some very peculiar signals in the 10-minute dynamic spectrum that we obtained from Ross 128,” Méndez writes.


Scientists have not ruled out the possibility of alien life, however, they have said it is highly unlikely. Méndez added, “In case you are wondering, the recurrent aliens hypothesis is at the bottom of many other better explanations.”

There are several possible explanations Méndez has hypothesized so far, all of which raise their own issues.

One explanation is that the emissions from the star are similar to type II solar flares. Solar flares are giant explosions that send energy, light and high-speed particles into space, according to NASA. However, Méndez writes that type II flares typically occur at much lower frequencies.

Another explanation is that the signals could be coming from emissions from another object, such as a man-made satellite, that is in the same field as Ross 128.

However, Méndez writes there are many objects in the field of view, and they have never seen satellites burst like that.

The Arecibo telescope is a massive 1,000 feet across. The only other one on Earth that could detect these nuanced signals is the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in China, which is not currently online because it is being calibrated.

According to author John Michael Godier, Arecibo was featured in the 1997 movie “Contact” and it would be satisfying if it were, in fact, the first telescope that picked up an alien signal.

Are there extraterrestrials out there?

According to Business Insider, Méndez says that “the SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] groups are aware of the signals.”

Senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, Seth Shostak, told Business Insider that the group is "well aware of the signals" and that they might use its Allen Telescope Array in California "to check them out."

With such complex life here on Earth, from single-celled organisms to the massive blue whale, why couldn’t it be possible for life to exist in other parts of the universe?

Perhaps the reason we cannot yet comprehend such a theory is that there is so much out there, most of which is too far for travel, and we have not been presented with any concrete proof. It may be far-fetched, but the signal from Ross 128 might lead us to some answers.