The Absolute Cosmos: This Sun like star may be the potential source of the Wow! Signal

In 1963 Ohio State University turned on its Big Ear radio telescope for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. The telescope operated for over thirty years before being disassembled in 1998.

On 15th August 1977, Big Ear received a strong narrowband signal. The signal lasted for about seventy two seconds. It appeared to have come from Sagittarius constellation.

It was so powerful and unusual that astronomer Jerry Ehman who studied the signal, famously wrote “Wow” comment on the side of print out data.

Scientists operating Big Ear and others continued to scan the skies but they never heard the Wow signal again. This unrepeated and unexplained nature of the signal prompted many people to term it the possible sign of intelligent life.

Now, an Amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero who is also the co-founder of The Exoplanets Channel (YouTube), has offered a possible explanation for the source of the Wow signal.

In his research, Alberto Caballero searched Gaia database for Sun like stars that could host a planet more like Earth capable of supporting intelligent life.

Gaia was launched by European Space Agency (ESA) in 2013. It is designed to map the night sky with unprecedented accuracy. As of now it has mapped about 1.3 billion stars enabling astronomers to start creating the most detailed 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy.

Gaia star map is way more detailed today than the star catalog of 1970s when Wow signal was received. This new database could reveal the possible source of Wow signal.

According to Caballero, if the signal indeed came from some other life form living on an exoplanet……than this exoplanet might be similar to Earth, orbiting a star like our Sun. Based on this logic Caballero began looking for such star in Gaia database.

His research returned with a candidate star which appears to be best fit for his study. The star is called 2MASS 19281982–2640123 and it is located at about 1800 light years away in the constellation of Sagittarius.

The star is very nearly a mirror image of our Sun with almost same radius, temperature and luminosity. Moreover, it is also located in the part of the sky from where the Wow signal was originated.

Still, Caballero’s research doesn’t mean that particular star must have been the source of Wow signal.

According to him there are many more stars in that region of the sky that can’t be included as they are too dim. There remains a possibility that one of these could be the potential source.

Also, there are sixty six other stars which have similar temperature like Sun, but their luminosity and radius data is not complete. Further, data release by Gaia or any other star mapping mission might reveal those stars as possible matches.

As of now 2MASS 19281982–2640123 remains the best match for future study and signs for any exoplanet orbiting the star should be looked upon.

For more information: An approximation to determine the source of the WOW! Signal

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