'Peculiar' Signal from Nearby Star Ross 128

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Michael Watson

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Message 1878258 - Posted: 14 Jul 2017, 18:02:02 UTC

Professor Abel Mendez reported receiving a unique, quasi-periodic signal from the very nearby star Ross 128 (FL Virginis) in May. He will attempt to receive this signal again on Sunday, July 16th, at the Arecibo Observatory,

While properly looking for a natural explanation first, the possibility of an intelligent signal has not been ruled out. Stellar flares have be advanced as the likeliest natural cause.

I have not been able to ascertain that stellar flares are known to display periodic behavior, and given the brief period of observation, about 10 minutes, this seems, if anything, even less likely. A link to an article with more details, below:

http://www.geekwire.com/2017/strange-ross-128-arecibo-radio/
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Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1878259 - Posted: 14 Jul 2017, 18:16:55 UTC - in response to Message 1878258.  

Did he record and try to decode the signal. If so what did he find. If not, why not ?
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878277 - Posted: 14 Jul 2017, 20:50:03 UTC

I'm sure that, like any good scientist, Prof. Mendez recorded the data he sought to collect. This signal was found during a survey of red dwarf stars, intended to document their activity in the part of the radio range where stellar flares are prominent.

Decoding a signal assumes that it's been encoded in the first place. So far, they're still merely trying to reacquire the signal, so that its cause can, they hope, be ascertained .
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Message 1878286 - Posted: 14 Jul 2017, 21:47:12 UTC - in response to Message 1878258.  

Has Ross 128 already been a target of Breakthrough Listen with the Green Bank, and if so have we crunched the data yet? Its my understanding that the frequencies received were higher than we look for, but it would still be interesting to know.
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878291 - Posted: 14 Jul 2017, 22:29:06 UTC
Last modified: 14 Jul 2017, 22:30:31 UTC

I checked the 'Breakthrough Listen at UC Berkeley' website. They list the stars that have already been monitored, either at Green Bank or Parkes. Ross 128 (HIP 57548) was not listed.
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NullSyndrome

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Message 1878332 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 3:51:22 UTC - in response to Message 1878291.  

Hmm. Too bad we can't request specific work units when they become available. :-)
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Profile Chris SCrowdfunding Project Donor
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Message 1878342 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 7:03:25 UTC - in response to Message 1878332.  

That has never been the case. Seti's main problem is that it simply doesn't have the funding to have it's own radio telescope, that it can point anywhere it chooses. It has had to piggyback on data from telescopes owned by others, and from areas of the sky that it's owners choose to point it at. The workunits that we as volunteers get sent are random from that data and not targetted.

Also there were two main reasons for setting Seti@home up. Firstly in 1999 we didn't know whether or not ET was on our doorstep,. The second reason was to prove that Distributed Computing using the public's computers was a viable proposition for scientific research and an alternative to expensive mainframe time. The Seti@home project as an experiment has successfully proved both of the above. The work carries on because if we don't look we will never find.

But reports of interesting signals from areas of the sky found by others are something that Seti cannot do anything about. We can't go to Arecibo or the GBT and say please stop what you are doing, and point it here for the next few days. Then we get targetted workunits to crunch. Nice as that might be.

I think many people are clutching at straws wanting to find the first genuine WOW signal.
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Jim1348

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Message 1878385 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 15:06:15 UTC - in response to Message 1878342.  

But reports of interesting signals from areas of the sky found by others are something that Seti cannot do anything about. We can't go to Arecibo or the GBT and say please stop what you are doing, and point it here for the next few days. Then we get targetted workunits to crunch. Nice as that might be.

I had assumed that the GBT was looking at more or less the same places (and using appropriate frequencies) that SETI wanted to do, being the stars with the planets most likely to have life. Is that not usually the case?

I will be driving down there in a couple of months and wanted to wave at them. I last saw it a few months before its completion, probably in 2000 or 2001. But if they are not on the ball, I could change that.
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878400 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 16:44:14 UTC
Last modified: 15 Jul 2017, 16:53:36 UTC

While we await further developments, another link to information on what Prof. Mendez has observed so far, and his plans for the near future:

http://phl.upr.edu/library/notes/ross128

Prof. Mendez notes the difficulty with type II stellar flares as an explanation, stating that they occur at lower frequencies than the 4 to 5 GHz range he was using. Stellar flares of this sort also present other difficulties.

First, these have a much narrower bandwidth than the signal he observed. Second, they are comparatively rare, occurring on the time scale of tens of hours. Prof. Mendez reported receiving a number of impulses within the space of just ten minutes.
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rob smithProject Donor
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Message 1878401 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 16:45:18 UTC

The BLP which has some influence over where the GBT is observing has a "hit list" of locations to look at. This list may be "dynamic", with locations being added or removed depending on what is found. There is no doubt a delay between the decision and the action depending on what the telescope schedule is, not forgetting of course there is planned maintenance taking place during the summer months which may result delays in observation of a "juicy target".

As for the recording and analysis of the data - most radio telescope observations these days are not real time, but are done on recordings, and given this announcement was made some time after the observation so it is quite probable that this signal was found some time after the observation.
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Profile Chris SCrowdfunding Project Donor
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Message 1878428 - Posted: 15 Jul 2017, 18:23:42 UTC

But if they are not on the ball, I could change that.

Not at all. The scopes are fantastic scientific things to see in their own right. Seti does the best it can within the limitations that it has. And they do damn well all considered :-))
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878545 - Posted: 16 Jul 2017, 15:34:36 UTC

There is apparently a good deal of scientific interest in Prof. Mendez' 'very peculiar signals' . He reports that the Green Bank Observatory, the Allen Telescope Array, and others will put their usual work aside, in order to join in his observations today.

Prof. Mendez hopes to at least determine today, if the signals are truly at stellar distance, rather than some form of obscure form a man-made interference. Nearby sources of interference have been ruled out, but distant spacecraft of Earthly origin have been suggested. Given a long enough observation run, it should be possible to eliminate these, too. Their motion relative to the fixed stars should then become discernible.
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Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1878640 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 0:50:54 UTC - in response to Message 1878545.  

I cannot for the life of me understand why they don't look to see if there is a message in the so-called signal. If so, then it would warrant further investigation. If the investigation is just to figure out what is causing the "signal", then that is far different than reporting it on SETI boards and implying some form of alien life.

It seems to me that this is going about SETI backwards from the proper protocols. Maybe nobody claimed that this was a SETI-related object of interest.
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Profile Chris SCrowdfunding Project Donor
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Message 1878697 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 6:05:05 UTC
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017, 6:20:13 UTC

He reports that the Green Bank Observatory, the Allen Telescope Array, and others will put their usual work aside, in order to join in his observations today.

If that is so I am impressed. I always thought that these scopes and arrays had their observations pretty much controlled to a tight pre-determined schedule.

@William - I always understood that the first thing that the Seti algorithms did was to filter out RFI, and only then analyse what was left. I would suggest that stage 1 is to determine whether or not these "interesting signals" have been caused by mankind's activities. if it can be shown that it isn't the case, then we can look deeper into it for possible sources of the signal and embedded messages. No point in wasting computer time analysing spurious signals.

In other words if you are looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, then rather then random searches, one way is to remove the haystack first and what is left should be the needle. Unless of course you carelessly throw out the needle with the haystack and conclude there was no needle anyway!

Always bearing in mind of course that mankind on planet earth has not yet decided and come to a consensus, that we should deliberately advertise our presence to the universe. So why should we blithely assume that others have decided to do so when we haven't. Perhaps ET is as worried about attracting Klingons as we are !!!

Ross 128 is a small red dwarf star in the constellation of Virgo, the distance from Earth is 10.89 light-years.

Even if we detect intelligent signals, how could we let them know in a sensible time frame?

Notwithstanding, we await to hear further with great interest.
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Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1878714 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 9:08:27 UTC - in response to Message 1878697.  

Since this signal is interesting it has already been detected ( or lifted up) above the background noise. If there is no modulation or on/off pulses then it should be discarded as having an indication of alien intelligence. It would be worthy of further study for the purpose of determining if it is a persistent phenomenon caused by cosmic events.

I believe that the way we are going about SETI here is "wasting " a massive amount of computing power. The researcher in this case did not use Seti@home to determine that this was a loud "signal".

How did the Allen array do it's computing.
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Message 1878718 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 9:24:43 UTC

As with most (all?) signals from radio telescopes there are many sets of analysis done on them. SETI@Home is just one of them, some will be looking for specific artifacts, some for general patterns. Often there is a "Mk1 eyeball" of the plotted data, just to see if there is anything that stands out. It would appear that this is what spotted the strange signal that is now being investigated further using different telescopes and different sets of observers.
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Message 1878719 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 9:26:34 UTC - in response to Message 1878714.  

I believe that the way we are going about SETI here is "wasting " a massive amount of computing power.

I can't answer that for you William, I don't have the technical knowledge. All I can do is to say that for me, I am happy with the way that Eric K runs this place, and that in collaboration with DA, they have ensured that we are doing useful work.

You have to understand that there are a number of different SETI outfits in operation. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The Seti@Home project is different to the Seti Institute, and also the BTL project, and all funded differently. Although we are all linked together in a common search and may share data.
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878798 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 21:43:38 UTC

Prof. Mendez reports that observations of Ross 128 yesterday, July 16th, were successful. He hopes to announce an answer to the question:What is causing the signals? by the end of this week. It sounds as if the mysterious signal was heard again, and well enough to allow a prompt analysis.
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Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1878811 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 22:29:58 UTC - in response to Message 1878798.  

I guess that they need to prove that it was not an anomaly before further analysis ?
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Michael Watson

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Message 1878836 - Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 23:40:23 UTC

The signal appears to be an anomaly, in any case. That's what has generated wide interest in it. It doesn't agree well with any proposed hypothesis.

The first goal of the analysis, as described by Prof. Mendez, is to determine if the signal is truly at stellar distance, or is caused by one of our own satellites. This latter seems to be a long shot, as the satellite would have to be very distant, indeed, to appear to move with the fixed stars.
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Message boards : SETI@home Science : 'Peculiar' Signal from Nearby Star Ross 128


 
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