Finding planets in the habitable zone is only part of discovering new life in the universe. Another important factor is receiving signals from distant heavenly bodies. A mysterious signal from Earth-like planet Gliese 581g paves the way for a serious consideration that there might, indeed, be life on other planets. At least this is what some think while others speculate.
On September 29, 2014, Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, and colleague Paul Butler, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, discovered Gliese 581g. This was announced in a press conference at the National Science Foundation.
Gliese 581g is 20.5 light years away from Earth and is the only planet of its solar system to be located in the habitable zone. The habitable zone is where liquid water exists.
Other facts include: Gliese 581g is larger than Earth and was presumably named in honor of Steven Vogt’s wife “Zamima’s World” because, apparently, the planet has yet to be formally named.
Following the discovery of Gliese 581g, University of Western Sydney astronomer Ragbir Bhathal claims a signal originated from the newly-discovered planet. Bhathal is also a member of SETI, an organization which specializes in research in astrobiology. This mysterious signal, or rather a pulse of light, was recorded at being at least two years old, and according to UK’s Daily Mail Online, came from the solar system Gliese 581g belongs to.
Bhathal told Daily Mail,
“On clear nights, I go up to the observatory and monitor celestial objects. That is how I found the signal. The signal appeared as a sharp spike or laser-like pulse.”
It seems that Bhathal detected the signal in 2008, two years before the discovery of the Gliese 581 star and long before the discovery of the six planets orbiting in its solar system.
Skeptics speak out
“I know the scientist and when the news was announced, I asked for details. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t send these details,” said Frank Drake, SETI pioneer.
Honestly, Frank Drake finds Bhathal’s claim to be false. Project Ozma was Frank Drake’s creation, which was started 50 years ago in hopes to collect signals from space. He also came up with the so-called Drake Equation, which calculates the number of alien civilizations with whom we could potentially communicate.
Whether or not these claims are true has yet to be seen. One thing is for certain, we will keep looking up and enjoying the view. Maybe a twinkle of light will mean more than we thought, and maybe we are not alone.