Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 5:30 PM – First comets take away our alien megastructures, and now they may lay claim to one of the most enduring mysteries in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – the Wow! Signal.
Some researchers are sceptical, saying it isn’t clear the comets would release enough hydrogen to generate something like the Wow! signal. James Bauer of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, agrees that the hydrogen from comets can extend quite far, but still thinks the signal won’t be strong enough. “If comets were radio-bright at 21 centimetres, I would be puzzled as to why they aren’t observed more often at those wavelengths,” he says.
Although it’s been nearly four decades since the Wow! Signal was recorded, astronomers will only have to wait a few years more to test out this claim, as Comet 266P/Christensen will be passing through that section of space again on January 25, 2017 and Comet P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) will fly by there on January 7, 2018.