The scientists at Beijing Normal University say that the signals were identified earlier this year on the country’s giant “Sky Eye” telescope, and have called the signals “suspicious.”
On Tuesday, the Chinese state media outlet Science and Technology Daily reported that researchers were looking into a number of “possible technological traces” from intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the cosmos, reported Newsweek.
Zhang Tonjie, chief scientist of an extraterrestrial civilization search team co-founded by Beijing Normal University, the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley, said the narrow-band electromagnetic signals differ from previously captured signals.
The suspicious signals, however, could be the result of radio interference. Zhang said that further investigation is required.
Mysteriously, the report was removed from the state-backed website with no explanation why. However, the news has been picked up by several media outlets, including state-run Chinese news sites, reported Bloomberg.
The Sky Eye telescope’s official name is Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) and it is the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, with a diameter of 500 metres (equivalent to 30 football fields, as the telescope’s website states.)
One of its listed scientific goals is to search for extraterrestrial life.
Zhang’s extraterrestrial search team has encountered suspicious signals before, in fact. Two sets of unusual signals were found in 2020 while the team was processing data from 2019. Another strange signal was identified in 2022 when the team was observing exoplanets, Bloomberg reported.
One of the most famous examples in history of an unidentified signal from space was the mysterious Wow! signal, which was found by Ohio State University’s Big Ear telescope in 1977.
An incredibly strong signal came through for more than a minute, prompting Jerry Ehman, a scientist working with the telescope, to circle where the signal appeared on the data print-out with a red pen and wrote “Wow!” next to it.
The source of the signal is still unknown and has been used to argue for the existence of alien life.
To date, there have been no detected radio signals that are considered to have come from an extraterrestrial civilization.