An “extraterrestrial intelligence signal” detected by Chinese scientists?

A team of Chinese scientists scanning distant exoplanets for signs of life say they have found ‘suspicious signals’ that could point towards an alien civilization.

The report appeared today in Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

However, the authors of the finding urge caution while examining the findings, as the explanation for what was detected could be more prosaic.

“The possibility that a suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out, which can be a long process,” said Zhang Tongjie, chief scientist with the China Extraterrestrial Research Group.

The researchers found the unusual narrowband signals by processing data from 2019 obtained by the FAST radio telescope, a giant extraterrestrial signal hunter located in southwestern China that is also the largest of its kind in the world.

While the claim is obviously huge, experts were quick to point out that there may be simpler explanations for the signs as well.

Also, we should take these statements with a grain of salt as we have yet to see a scientific article, let alone a peer review.

“This is interesting, but don’t get too excited,” SpaceNews journalist Andrew Jones tweeted.

The massive FAST telescope is better suited to the task of searching for extraterrestrial civilizations than the recently collapsed Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which has been used to probe the night sky for signs of intelligent life in the past.

“That’s because it’s bigger, twice as sensitive, and can accept signals from a much wider swath of the sky thanks to its 19-beam receiver,” Tongjie argued.

“FAST will repeat observations of suspicious signals that have already been discovered to identify and detect new signals,” he added. Despite the warnings, the team is already excited about the possibility of confirming the world-altering discovery—or disappointed if the opposite, of course.

“We hope that the FAST radio telescope will be the first to discover and confirm the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations,” Tongjie told the newspaper.

But there is another big problem that could prevent the team from confirming that we have indeed made first contact: a tight schedule.

Peng Bo, a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories, confirmed to the newspaper that he believed the suspicious signals were likely of extraterrestrial origin, “but we don’t have time to identify them.”

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