The WOW signal is considered one of the most intriguing events in the search for life in outer space. In 1977 a SETII researcher, astronomer Jerry Ehman, working at the Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope heard an extremely strong signal coming from the constellation Sagittarius.
The signal last 72 seconds then it was never heard from there again. It was dubbed the WoW signal after its discoverer wrote WOW with an exclamation mark on a computer printout next to a numerical representation of the signal.
Many researchers still believe this signal may have been our first interception of an alien broadcast because analysis of the data has ruled out satellites as the source and regulations on Earth do not permit the broadcast frequencies in the range picked up by Ohio’s Big Ear telescope. But now, Professor Antonio Paris of St Petersburg College, an ex-analyst of the US Department of Defense, believes he might have cracked the mystery of this famous signal.
In a recent interview, Paris have searched the archives looking for another possible explanation for wow’ signal and found two “suspects”, 2 comets zoomed past on Earth at the very moment the Wow signal was recorded. These comets, called 266P/Christensen and 335P/Gibbs, were discovered in 2006 and 2008, so weren’t considered as possible reasons for the signal in 1977 as no one knew of their existence.
I have always been fascinated with astronomy, space and – more importantly – whether there is life in the universe,
he told the Sunday Times .
After 40 years, the Wow signal was a cold case I wanted to reopen. Here we have a crime scene with a date and time, and a little description of the subject.
A comet has 3 basic parts: Nucleus, made of rock, iron, dust and a variety of frozen chemicals including water and gases. The Coma, as the cold, solid nucleus approaches the Sun, its heat up and so the comet begins to transform, expelling water, dust, gas and debris form a fuzzy haze around the nucleus. A comet’s coma can span a few miles in diameter to hundreds of thousands. And finally, the Dust Tail of a Comet. As the nucleus and coma move closer to our Sun, the comet continues its transformation releasing heavier particles and debris. The H2 (hydrogen) broke down by solar UV light forms large hydrogen cloud with a radius of several million kilometers around the nucleus.
In the new paper, published earlier this year, Paris found that the hydrogen line, and the hydrogen clouds of 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) were responsible for the strong 1420 MHz signal of the famous wow signal.
But there’s one way to demonstrate his theory. In 2017, the comet 266P will pass by in the same area (the Chi Sagittarii star group) again. So if Paris theory is correct, then the comets will produce the same signal or something near the WOW radio frequency band.
Paris has now raised $18,455 (£12,925) of his target of $20,000 (£14,000), which will be used to build a telescope just in time to see the comets passing by that area of the sky.
Comet 266P/Christensen will transit the neighborhood of the “Wow” signal on January 25, 2017. With your assistance, The Center for Planetary Science will have an opportunity to direct a radio telescope toward this phenomenon, analyze the hydrogen spectra of these two comets, and test our hypothesis.
But some astronomy expert are skeptics and said that Paris would be disappointed if the signal wasn’t produced by comets. However, the professor added: “There’s a little bit of inside of me that hopes its aliens,”.