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Astronomers Question 'Wow!' Signal Comet Claims

Astronomers Question 'Wow!' Signal Comet Claims

In a somewhat unsurprising development, several astronomers have expressed skepticism over recent claims that a comet caused the legendary 'Wow!' signal.

A peer-reviewed paper penned by astronomer Antonio Paris made headlines last week when it seemingly solved the nearly 40-year-old mystery once and for all.

Paris' findings suggested that the mysterious space signal that has baffled scientists for four decades was the result of emissions coming from a comet.

Since then, a number a prominent experts have called into question the conclusions of Paris' study and have pointed out issues which suggest his research was flawed.

Perhaps the most compelling problem noted by astronomers surrounds the radio telescope, known as Big Ear, which detected the 'Wow!' signal.

This particular device featured two separate detectors that would, ostensibly, pick up a radio transmission twice, although the reception was separated by a gap of about one minute.

In the case of the 'Wow! signal, however, it was only spotted on one of the detectors and astronomers, including Paris, have no explanation for why that is.

Critics of his study argue that if the signal came from a comet, then it would surely have been registered by both detectors.

Additionally, astronomers note that the comet suspected of being the cause of the 'Wow!' signal was actually not in the vicinity of where the telescope was pointed at the time.

They also argue that there is no prior evidence of a comet emitting at the frequency seen in the 'Wow! signal.

As such, the initial astronomer who discovered the 'Wow!' signal has dismissed the findings as has SETI's Seth Shostak and one comet expert even dubbed Paris' work "rubbish."

Despite the strong negative response from the astronomical, Paris remains confident that his hypothesis is correct and hopes that further work on his theory, due out next year, will serve to answer the questions which have emerged since his paper was published.

As to why his work has received such a strong rebuke from astronomers, Paris advanced an interesting theory to Astronomy Now, telling the website that "I suspect that SETI, who have used the 'Wow!' signal as a source of revenue, are nervous."

It's a rather unique conspiracy theory proposed by Paris and one which the SETI community no doubt will vehemently deny.

Then again, with the 40th anniversary of the 'Wow!' signal's discovery, it's certainly possible that there are some people who would rather the mystery go unsolved since, if Paris' comet hypothesis were true, it would certainly put a damper on any planned festivities.

Source: Astronomy Now

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