(CNN) Astronomers engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are training their instruments on a star around 94 light years from Earth after a very strong signal was detected by a Russian telescope.
An international team of researchers is now examining the radio signal and its star, HD 164595 — described in a paper by Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone and others as a “strong candidate for SETI” — in the hopes of determining its origin.
“The signal from HD 164595 is intriguing, because it comes from the vicinity of a sun-like star, and if it’s artificial, its strength is great enough that it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind,” astronomer Douglas Vakoch, President of METI International, which searches for life beyond Earth, tells CNN.
Whenever a strong signal is detected, “it’s a good possibility for some nearby civilization to be detected,” Maccone tells CNN.
But experts say it is highly unlikely to be a message from alien beings.
“Without corroboration from an independent observatory, a putative signal from extraterrestrials doesn’t have a lot of credibility,” Vakoch says.
So is it aliens?
Probably not, says Vakoch, pointing to potential technological interference or amplification through gravitational lensing, where a signal behind a planet or other large object appears to be far stronger than it actually is, as potential causes.