Extraterrestrials

Kardashev Type II Civilization Detected Around a Star 95 Light-Years Away?

Very, very unlikely

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ETUniversalStudios
E.T./Universal Studios

Lots of news reports are speculating about a new paper issued by Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researchers in Russia that reports the detection of a signal anomaly coming from the direction of a star 95 light-years away. What's interesting about the star—HD164595—is that it's about the size and age of Sol and shares similar level of metallicity. And other researchers have apparently detected a Neptune-sized planet circling it.

According to researchers the signal is so strong that, if intentional, it could only be being emitted by a Kardashev Type II civilization, that is, one run by extraterrestrials that …

… can harness the power of their entire star (not merely transforming starlight into energy, but controlling the star). Several methods for this have been proposed. The most popular of which is the hypothetical 'Dyson Sphere.' This device, if you want to call it that, would encompass every single inch of the star, gathering most (if not all) of its energy output and transferring it to a planet for later use. Alternatively, if fusion power (the mechanism that powers stars) had been mastered by the race, a reactor on a truly immense scale could be used to satisfy their needs. Nearby gas giants can be utilized for their hydrogen, slowly drained of life by an orbiting reactor.

The Russian results are going to be presented at the IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) SETI Permanent Committee's meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, which convenes on September 27th.

So is E.T. really calling? Berkeley SETI@Home project scientist Eric Korpela greatly doubts it. In a blogpost over at the Berkeley site, he observes:

I was one of the many people who received the the email with the subject "Candidate SETI SIGNAL DETECTED by Russians from star HD 164595 by virtue of RATAN-600 radio telescope." Since the email did come from known SETI researchers, I looked over the presentation. I was unimpressed. In one out of 39 scans that passed over star showed a signal at about 4.5 times the mean noise power with a profile somewhat like the beam profile. Of course SETI@home has seen millions of potential signals with similar characteristics, but it takes more than that to make a good candidate. Multiple detections are a minimum criterion.

Because the receivers used were making broad band measurements, there's really nothing about this "signal" that would distinguish it from a natural radio transient (stellar flare, active galactic nucleus, microlensing of a background source, etc.) There's also nothing that could distinguish it from a satellite passing through the telescope field of view. All in all, it's relatively uninteresting from a SETI standpoint.

Now about that Dyson Sphere detected over at Tabby's Star ….

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  1. Fuckin pups again. Sorry.

    1. You should be. I’m not much of a dog person or anything, but that’s pretty sick.

  2. Pre-emptive strike only way to preserve our human way of life.

    1. Sorry dude, the Nicol-Dyson laser beam is already on its way here from one direction and the R-bombs are coming in from the other.

      “. . . we will find apes or angels, but not men.” – Arthur C Clarke.

    2. Ah, a fan of the Dark Forest theory?

      1. Libertarians seem to stumble into The Killing Star, because optimists.

  3. *facepalm*

    No. Just no.

    The signal appears to be from the energy of a whole star because….wait for it…it is being emitted from the star by a natural process. We don’t need super advanced technology to explain this.

    1. That’s already been explained – its 99% certainly that its due to gravitational lensing focusing the light from one or more stars behind the one that seems to be flashing us.

      But you don’t get your grants extended/enlarged for finding the mundane. Nobody gets editors to pay for their ‘scientists find completely expected natural phenomena’, and editors don’t get eyeballs on links without hype.

    2. Yeah, kinda fails a common sense corollary to Fermi’s Paradox, IMO.

      Interstellar travel is readily possible without being a Kardashev Type II civilization. When a Kardashev Type II civilization contacts you, you’ll fucking know it. There won’t be any of this “Is 4.5X background without reproduction significant?” bullshit.

  4. 1. Let’s see – head line in the form of a question?

    Answer’s ‘no’.

    2. That link in the quoted section leads not to a definition of a ‘Dyson Sphere’ but to an article on how editing Human embryos alarms scientists’.

    3. And its not a Dyson *sphere*, its a Dyson *swarm* or bubble or shell. A sphere would be the worst possible form for a number of reasons. The only way anyone would build one is if it were a government crony contractohmyGod!itreallyisaliens

    4. A Type II civilization does not mean they can harness the output of their ‘entire star’ – it means they have an energy production and utilization capability equal to the output *of our star*. Regardless of where they get the energy from.

    Precision and accuracy matter. You wouldn’t call an APC a tank . . . oh wait, nevermind.

    1. So scratch Futurism.com off my list?

    2. So a type In civilization has powerful vacuum cleaners?

      1. That corner really well.

        1. “All right, the next round I want you to keep kicking that lead leg.” – vacuum cleaner

    3. A: Grrr. The internal link from block-quoted material led to the human embryo editing – not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with gene-editing human embryos. In any case, I have supplied another link a Dyson sphere/swarm/shell/whatever explainer to fix that. Sorry for any confusion.

  5. “SETI@home has seen millions of potential signals with similar characteristics, but it takes more than that to make a good candidate. Multiple detections are a minimum criterion.

    Because the receivers used were making broad band measurements, there’s really nothing about this “signal” that would distinguish it from a natural radio transient . . . . There’s also nothing that could distinguish it from a satellite passing through the telescope field of view. All in all, it’s relatively uninteresting from a SETI standpoint.”

    What this “scientist” doesn’t seem to understand is that this incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrial civilization confirms two things that everyone who doesn’t live on Planet Redneck has already known for eons.

    1) There is no God, and our religious “rights” should be ignored.

    2) We should have abandoned capitalism and carbon for socialism and solar decades ago.

    Why do deniers always hate the truth?

    1. Just wait until they decode the signal and discover Hitler.

        1. Not possible. It’s 95 light years away. Or let me put it this way. If they decode the signal to find Hitler, I am doubly shitting my pants.

          1. Clearly you’ve never heard of Faster Than Light Communication.

            I read it in a book.

            Science.

          2. He flipped his light cone upside down with secret Nazi technology.

            1. +1 Alien Turing Oracle.

  6. researchers in Russia that reports the detection of a signal anomaly coming from the direction of a star 95 light-years away.

    Perhaps this is where they got the DNC emails.

    BOOM!

  7. I wonder if they suffer the same “quality” of candidates in their elections?

    1. They’re thousands of years farther along than us. You can’t even imagine how terrible their candidates are.

  8. Ok, I gotta question. Call me ignorant and curious.

    If a civilization were to build a Dyson Sphere completely surrounding their sun, would not the solar wind begin piling up and increasing the pressure inside the sphere? Would the decreased vacuum cause problems, like slowing down planets in orbits, affecting palent atmospheres, etc? What would the time scale be?

    1. They wouldn’t build a sphere.

      They’d build a permeable shell of statites held up by light pressure.

      Or a swarm of rice grain sized computronium pellets in multiple orbits at multiple distances.

      There would be no planets to get in the way because a) its built at too close a distance to the star and b) you’d disassemble the planets to get the materials to build your shell.

  9. Contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial will remain highly unlikely right up until the moment it is confirmed. It’s like winning the lottery. Every signal/ticket is a possible winner!

  10. I always love how the aliens somehow must always be more advanced than us. Maybe we shouldn’t start with assumptions. It’s possible there’s alien life out there that is still in the single cell stage, or dinosaur equivalent or some such. Why do we always assume there’s “intelligent” life and not just a planet with animals maybe. You’ll notice our planet only has the one intelligent life. That should indicate, at a minimum that intelligent life is pretty fucking rare. Shouldn’t we prove life exists first, before we assume advanced civilizations?

    1. It’s a reasonable assumption if you are talking about finding aliens by radio, since we’ve only had radio for 100 years.

    2. Because Star Wars?

    3. Shouldn’t we prove life exists first, before we assume advanced civilizations?

      We’re trying to do that within the solar system as we speak. Mars, Titan, etc. could have life. The problem with looking for unintelligent life outside the solar system is that the signals are way too weak to detect at this point. So that’s why we focus on finding extra-solar life via radio signals, which can only come from intelligent life.

      1. I’m not so much talking about the looking. I’m talking about the assumptions. So, so many assumptions. Not necessarily by scientists (although, I’m looking at you, Hawking), but by general public / armchair scientists (ahem, news writers). It always seems like people leap to intelligent life first, and want desperately to prove it exists. I don’t mind the scientific, rational search. It’s the leaps to conclusions and “it must exist!” derpiness I hate.

    4. Because of fear that the ‘Great Filter’ lies in our future instead of our past.

      Plus its the ‘if lost your car keys in the alley why are you looking near the lamppost’ logic – because that’s where the light is best.

      We look for signs of civilizations that are near peers because those are the types of civilizations we know how to look for.

  11. NPR says that Trump just heard about this and wants to build a Dyson Wall. No aliens allowed!

  12. From the linked Dyson Sphere page:

    There will come a time in the future when we’ve exhausted all the fossil and nuclear fuels. And once we’ve harvested as much wind, solar and geothermal energy as our planet can produce, we’re going to need to move out into space and collect energy directly from the Sun.

    Uh.. what about draining Titan of all of its sweet, sweet hydrocarbons first?

    1. Where are you going to get the energy to transport that much mass here? And if you have the required energy – you don’t need those hydrocarbons in the first place.

  13. Kardeshev Level II, holy shit that’s awesome! Everyone knows to reach that level of development, they will have mastered democracy and are living a pure Libertarian existance and are simply gambolling around the galaxy lookin for funzies. I for one can’t for the HD164595 buttsecks and HD164595 weed…

    1. Wait… can’t wait for the HD164595 buttsecks and HD164595 weed..

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