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The wow signal

  1. Feb 28, 2012 #1
    Catching up on the Universe Today I came across this article discussing the history of the wow signal. Since it fit the profile of a non-naturally generated signal, the would indicate either an equipment glitch or there really was something out there sending a signal. My question is, based on signal magnitude and the direction, would it be possible to approximate about where it came from?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2012 #2


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    going into deeper reading yielded this about its location in the sky...

    "The apparent coordinates of the emission were R.A.\19h22m22s or 19h25m12s (both ^5s), decl.\ [27¡03@^20@ (1950) (J. D. Kraus 1990, private communication)"
    THE ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 546:1171È1177, 2001 January 10

  4. Feb 28, 2012 #3


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    I remember seeing in a documentary that decoding an unknown signal to make sense of any meaning it possesses requires that some parts of the message be repeated on a regular basis. As our own communications have become more efficient, however, there's less and less room for repeated 'characters'. This has led to the realization that if our own modern transmissions were received from deep space in the guise of alien communications, and we didn't have the key to decompress and decode them, we in fact wouldn't be able to decode them, and they would be discarded as nothing more than noise.

    I think the documentary was dealing with the question of 'what if we stumbled on an alien transmission from one point in the cosmos to another point in the cosmos'. Here, we might be dealing with a message which is intended for a more advanced civilization, where we just crossed the beam by accident. In that case, it would make sense that we wouldn't be able to discover the meaning of the message.

    The article you referenced would better apply to a lighthouse-type signal, or maybe a signal targeted specifically at Sol with a Rosetta Stone encoded in it, a la Carl Sagan's 'Contact'.

    Of course, all of this is tempered by the huge amounts of time it takes for messages, and the photons they travel on, to move through the galaxy.
  5. Feb 29, 2012 #4

    So someone already did it? Cool. Looking further into myself it appearently came from Chi Sagittarii.

    I'm not so sure of that. Artificial signals have properties that make them distinct from naturally occuring noise, even if the actual content was lost. Now that I think about it, I recall another documentary about whether or not aliens could listen to our radio signals and it said after a certain number of light years the signal becomes too faint. That might be what happened here. Chi Sagittarii is more than 200 light years away, which would indicate that whatever's there is more than 200 years ahead of us. Not a pleasent feeling.
  6. Mar 5, 2012 #5
    Also assuming an acceptable level of societal/scientific advancement, maybe any civilization that has reached the technological level to travel the stars, at speeds to make it non-generational, or even communicate over those distances, what would be the basis of common dialogue and reference? And given the early signals escaping to space, I’m not too certain that they would want to see us (ala Sagan’s “Contact” with Hitler’s welcome speech to the Olympics) and then following speeches and images with his war. Think of the undertaking to plan a trip this direction and monitoring signals (which would become stronger and closer to present time as they approached, and finding out while we make attempts not to, we are busy killing each other.
    Would an advanced culture bother to continue to travel or even continue to translate?

    On the same vein, if you handed a (iPod) child of today a recorder cylinder, made by Edison, would they a) know what it was? b) know how to listen to it c) even bother to try to ‘decode’ it?
    (implication being we are sending gramaphone signals to iPod users)
    Then there is the Conquistador effect to consider
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  7. Mar 6, 2012 #6


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    Vague news of another "wow" signal, this time optical, not radio, from the Small Magellanic Cloud, curiously about the same distance from Earth as Chi Sagittarii, roughly 200 light years.

    In December 2008, Ragbir Bhathal of the University of Western Sydney claimed the detection of a strong laser-like signal from the direction of 47 Tucanae.[14]



    Respectfully submitted,
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  8. Mar 6, 2012 #7
    while i find this of great interest, the politics of FoxNews, gives me concern to how accurate it is.....
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