China Says It May Have Received Signals From Aliens

Scientists have yet to rule out human radio interference as the signals' source

The signals were detected by the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) located in southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Image credit: NAO/FAST)


China is claiming that its enormous "Sky Eye" telescope may have picked up trace signals from a distant alien civilization, according to a recently posted and subsequently deleted report by Chinese scientists.


Astronomers at Beijing Normal University have discovered "several cases of possible technological traces and extraterrestrial civilizations from outside the Earth," according to a report published Tuesday (June 14) in Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China's Ministry of Science and Technology.


The signals were picked up by China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), nicknamed "Sky Eye," which is the largest radio telescope in the world. Sky Eye was put to work scanning deep space for radio signals that could indicate extraterrestrial life in 2019; sifting through that data in 2020, the researchers said they spotted two suspicious narrow-band, potentially artificial radio signals. Then, in 2022, a targeted survey of known exoplanets found another strange narrow-band radio signal, bringing the tally up to three.




Related: 9 things we learned about aliens in 2021


As the signals are narrow-band radio waves typically only used by human aircraft and satellites, they could have been produced by alien technology. However, the scientists say their findings are preliminary and should be taken with caution until the analysis is complete.


"These are several narrow-band electromagnetic signals different from the past, and the team is currently working on further investigation," Zhang Tongjie, head scientist at the China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group at Beijing Normal University, told the Science and Technology Daily. "The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out. This may be a long process."


Following its publication, the report quickly began to circulate on the Chinese social media network Weibo and was picked up by a number of other state-run outlets. The reasons behind its sudden deletion are unclear.


The signals aren't the first time that scientists have been baffled by radio waves from deep space. In August 1977, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) search performed by the Ohio State University's Big Ear telescope picked up an incredibly strong, minute-long, electromagnetic burst that flared at a frequency scientists suspected could be used by alien civilizations. Upon spotting the signal on a data printout, the scientist working with the telescope that night, Jerry Ehman, hastily scribbled "Wow!" in red pen on the page, giving the detection its famous name.


Follow-up searches in the same region of space have all returned empty-handed, and later research ha