The title, as far as formal research papers go, is a fairly innocuous one; Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars, but the claim is a whopper.
According to a Canadian astronomer, Earth is currently on the receiving end of laser transmissions from some 234 different star systems, a signal he argues, which can only come from extraterrestrial intelligence. Here is the paper’s abstract.
“A Fourier transform analysis of 2.5 million spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was carried out to detect periodic spectral modulations. Signals having the same period were found in only 234 stars overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range. The signals cannot be caused by instrumental or data analysis effects because they are present in only a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range and because signal to noise ratio considerations predict
that the signal should mostly be detected in the brightest objects, while this is not the case. We consider several possibilities, such as rotational transitions in molecules, rapid pulsations, Fourier transform of spectral lines and signals generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI). They cannot be generated by molecules or rapid pulsations. It is highly unlikely that they come from the Fourier transform of spectral lines because too many strong lines located at nearly periodic frequencies are needed. Finally we consider the possibility, predicted in a previous published paper, that the signals are caused by light pulses generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence to makes us aware of their existence. We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis. However, at this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work. Although unlikely, there is also a possibility that the signals are due to highly peculiar chemical compositions in a small fraction of galactic halo stars.”
Although the findings are presented with several significant qualifications as indicated in the abstract itself, other astronomers were quick to jump on the claim as wildly premature, if not downright unprofessional.
One interesting aspect regarding the specific means of transmission, directed laser pulses, is that it is one we are already capable of producing ourselves, a fact which suggests that at least in this case, massive alien engineering on a stellar scale is not required to reach out and touch someone.
Still, taking the claims at face value requires reaching one of two equally mind-blowing conclusions. Either the signals are coming independently from 234 different star systems, a possibility which suggests that intelligent life, like planets themselves, are liberally sprinkled throughout the cosmos. Or, perhaps much more surprisingly, at least one civilization has spread to multiple star systems, and wants to share the good news with everyone else.
One way or another, there is no doubt quite a bit more to come. Hopefully not on Independence Day however.