Here’s the good news: You can turn off the loop of the song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind that you’ve been playing for the past hour and a half. The bad news has come to pass; We haven’t found aliens yet.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project has started its first analyses of its scans of the 86 exoplanet candidates uncovered by the Kepler space telescope. And scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, announced Friday that SETI found its first batch of “hits” within the data. However, additional analyses have shown that the project’s first candidate signals are just plain ol’ terrestrial radio frequency interference.
Tip: @badastronomer on Twitter
No aliens today. Here is more on this from Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.
So, sadly, it’s not aliens. But the good news is the method works! The astronomers use automated software to look for what could be artificial signals, and the computers flagged these detections. As the project ramps up and they start looking in earnest at the hundreds or even thousands of exoplanets orbiting stars out in the galaxy, they’ll certainly find lots of signals like these — interference from somewhat closer and more mundane sources.