On August 15, 1977, a radio telescope from the University of Ohio he found something very strange and never fully explained. The machine was scanning some star systems for possible ones signals from extraterrestrial civilizations (as part of the SETI project) when he discovered a very strong one, probably originating from constellation of Sagittarius. The detection of this mysterious phenomenon continued for just a minute and, subsequently, that strange signal was never detected again.
It was so powerful that the astronomer Jerry Ehman, the first to understand it, looked for it with a red pen and wrote “Wow!” in the margin of the sheet. This gave rise to the name of this bizarre event, since then known as the “Wow!” Signal, which has always been considered one of the most important clues regarding the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.
At least until now. The astronomer Antonio Paris, in fact, is convinced that he has finally interpreted the mysterious phenomenon, without having to bother the aliens.
Paris has been studying the “Wow!” Signal for a long time: in 2016, together with fellow astronomer Evan Davies, he published an article suggesting that the mysterious signal came from a comet orbiting near the solar system. More specifically, the two comets 266P / Christensen and P / 2008 Y2 (Gibbs) were indicated as the main suspects, given their presence in the area of the “ Wow! ” Signal when it was detected.
Both of these comets are accompanied by a vast cloud of hydrogen, which could be the real responsible for the signal picked up in 1977.. Paris spent four months, between 2016 and 2017, with the telescope pointed at 266P / Christensen, detecting a signal very similar to the one indicted and endowed with the same surprising intensity. In addition, the astronomer examined other similar comets, noting the same cloud of hydrogen and then picking up the same signal; this means that, even if 266P / Christensen did not directly cause the phenomenon, the comet idea is certainly the easiest to follow in seeking an answer to this decennial mystery.
However, the last word has not yet been said: indeed, an employee of the OSU Radio Observatory, where the “ Wow! ” signal was detected in 1977 has expressed skepticism on the discovery of Paris. In particular, it is pointed out that the two comets indicated as a possible explanation for the origin of the signal were too far apart at the time of detection. It is also pointed out that no previous research has ever directly linked comets to signals like “Wow”, whose characteristics do not allow to fully support the hypothesis of Paris. From a temporal point of view, in fact, “Wow!” was detected for about a minute, an unusual duration for signals from comets.
Certainly this study will not be the last word on the subject, but it provides further questions and possibilities that will be explored in later research. Although it appears to provide one answer that had been missing for many years, finally illuminating the darkness around one of the most famous mysteries of astronomy, it could be a bad shot for those who have always seen in “Wow!” one of the surest proofs of extraterrestrial life.