Ross 128 red dwarf's signals send scientists' hearts aflutter

You might have an image of outer space as being this vast, empty, and silent vacuum, and, to some extent, you'd be correct. But with the right instruments, you'd discover how much of a noisy party space really is. Radio waves of all kinds travel the vastness of space, taking ages even when traveling at the speed of light. And some of them naturally reach earth, giving scientists data to devour. Last week, however, a red dwarf by the name of Ross 128 in the constellation of Virgo has been sending us some rather strange signals and scientists are only too excited to find out what exactly they are. And no, they don't think they're from aliens.

It might be hard to imagine, but our planet is actually bombarded every day by all sorts of things from space. Fortunately, they're the invisible and harmless kind, from magnetic waves to radio signals coming from stars. Although we still have much to learn about our nearly infinite universe, scientists believe they have most of the space waves figured out. That is, until Ross 128 threw them a curve ball.

Researchers from the Puerto Rican Arecibo Observatory reported receiving strange radio waves coming from the red dwarf. Not that it's strange to receive radio waves from such stars, but they couldn't pinpoint the exact nature or origin of the signals. It was nothing like what has been observed before and defied conventional classification.

There were a few possibilities, each of them eventually ruled out. First, they ruled out solar flares from Ross 128 as the source, as the frequency of these waves are significantly different from those exhibited by solar flares. The waves also seemed to be coming from deep space, and yet there are nothing else within the field of view of Ross 128 that would have been the source of the signals. They also ruled out interference from local communication sources as well as orbiting satellites, as the waves didn't match anything humans have used before.

Ruling out possible answers doesn't exactly answer the question either. It still remains a mystery how a red dwarf merely 11 light years away seems to be emitting signals coming from deep space. And before you even suggest, yes, they've put "aliens" on their list, but it's way, way down at the bottom.

SOURCE: University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo