Credit: Big Ear Observatory

In SETI circles, the famed “Wow!” signal appears to be a still-standing indication of detecting other starfolk.

The signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope.

Astronomer Jerry Ehman discovered the anomaly a few days later while reviewing the recorded data – writing on the computer printout “Wow!” He also circled the string 6EQUJ5 representing the signal’s intensity variation over time. The entire signal sequence lasted for the full 72-second window during which Big Ear was able to pick the signal up.

Big Ear Observatory courtesy of North American Astrophysical Observatory. In late 1997, after almost 40 years of operation, the Big Ear radio ceased operation. The telescope was destroyed in early 1998.

Signal source

New detective work by space devotee Alberto Caballero has been published online in the International Journal of Astrobiology by Cambridge University Press: “An approximation to determine the source of the WOW! Signal.”

Caballero analyzed which of the thousands of stars in the WOW! Signal region could have the highest chance of being the real source of the signal, providing that it came from a star system similar to ours.

A total of 66 G and K-type stars are sampled by Caballero, but only one of them is identified as a potential Sun-like star considering the available information in the Gaia Archive.

2MASS 19281982-2640123, the star with the temperature, radius, and luminosity most similar to the Sun found in the WOW! Signal region, based on data from the Gaia Archive. Source: PanSTARRS/DR1

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia Archive provides astrometry, photometry, and spectroscopy of more than 1000 million stars in the Milky Way. Gaia, the Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics, is an ESA observatory spacecraft mission.

Ideal target

“This candidate source, which is named 2MASS 19281982-2640123, therefore becomes an ideal target to conduct observations in the search for techno-signatures,” Caballero explains in his paper.

“Despite this star is located too far for sending any reply in the form of a radio or light transmission, it could be a great target to make observations searching for techno-signatures such as artificial light or satellite transits,” Caballero adds.

To read the research paper — “An approximation to determine the source of the WOW! Signal” – go to:

One Response to ““Wow!” Signal – Candidate Source Proposed”

Leave a Reply