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China Detects Possible Alien Signals: Recent Developments

Scientists haven't confirmed if human radio signals could be causing the signals.

A large sailboat is sailing on a dark lake. The sky is filled with stars. The water is calm and reflects the stars.
A sailboat floats on a calm lake under a starry sky.
Aerial view of a giant radio telescope in China. The telescope is made up of a large, dish-shaped structure surrounded by trees and mountains. The telescope is named the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST).
Aerial view of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China.

China's huge "Sky Eye" telescope, called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), might have detected faint signals from aliens, according to Chinese scientists. They found possible signs of technology and civilizations from outside Earth.

FAST is the world's largest radio telescope, and it started searching for radio signals from space in 2019. In 2020, scientists noticed two unusual narrow-band radio signals, and in 2022, they found another strange signal while studying known exoplanets. These discoveries were reported in China's Science and Technology Daily newspaper, but the report was later removed.

A person is standing on top of a mountain at night. The person is holding a flashlight, which is illuminating the foreground. The background is a galaxy, which is visible through the darkness.
A person standing on top of a mountain holding a flashlight in front of a galaxy.

The signals scientists found are like the radio waves used by human aircraft and satellites, which could mean they're from alien technology. But the scientists say they're still studying this and it's not confirmed. Zhang Tongjie, the lead scientist at Beijing Normal University's China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group, said they need more investigation to be sure. There's a chance the weird signals might just be radio interference, but they need to check and make sure, which could take a while.

The report about this spread on Chinese social media, but then it was removed for unclear reasons.

This isn't the first time scientists have been puzzled by radio signals from space. In 1977, the Ohio State University's Big Ear telescope picked up a really strong burst of electromagnetic waves that some thought could be from aliens. It was so surprising that the scientist who saw it wrote "Wow!" on the printout. They looked for more signals from that area but didn't find any. Some later research suggested it might have come from a star like our sun in the Sagittarius constellation, but it's still a mystery.

Chinese astronomers want to make sure these signals aren't just interference because that has confused alien hunters before. In 2019, they saw a signal from Proxima Centauri, the closest star system to us, which is about 4.2 light-years away and might have a planet that can support life.

A view of the Earth from space. The Earth is a blue planet with white clouds covering much of the surface. The continents are visible, as are the oceans.
The Earth, a blue marble, seen from space.

The signal seemed like a narrow-band radio wave that's usually linked to things humans make, making scientists think it might be from alien technology. But, two years later, new studies suggested it was likely due to human technology going wrong. Similarly, there were famous signals detected between 2011 and 2014 that were believed to be from aliens but turned out to be scientists warming up their meals in the microwave.

Zhang's team plans to keep checking the strange signals to make sure they're not caused by radio interference and to learn more about them.

"We hope that the FAST telescope will be the first to find and confirm the existence of civilizations from outer space," Zhang said in the Science and Technology Daily.

Scientists have been puzzled by the vastness of the universe and its age compared to the seeming absence of intelligent life beyond Earth. This is known as the Fermi Paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, who once wondered, "So where is everybody?"

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