A star identical to the Sun has been identified as Potential source of the enigmatic alien signal Wow!, after an analysis of data from the ESA’s Gaia space observatory.

What is the ‘Wow! Signal’? Throughout the 1970s, the Big Ear radio telescope in Ohio searched for signs of extraterrestrial civilizations. And on August 15, 1977, Ohio State astronomer Jerry Ehman found a strong, intermittent signal lasting 72 seconds, which stood out from the background noise like a reflector.

The team quickly ruled out a terrestrial origin or a transmission from a satellite. However, the signal it was so powerful and unusual that Ehman annotated the sign with the word Wow! (wow in English), along with the printed data of it.

Big Ear’s team continued to observe the same part of the sky, but the signal Wow! never comeback. Nor has anything like it been observed anywhere else in the sky. Kraus and others have even looked for stars that could be the source of the signal: “We checked the star catalogs to see if there were stars similar to the Sun in the area and we didn’t find any,” wrote Kraus. To this day, the signal remains unexplained and without repetition.

The search paid off

In a new effort, amateur astronomer Alberto Caballero searched for stars similar to the Sun among the thousands that have been identified by Gaia in the region of the sky from which the signal came, with the hypothesis that an exoplanet orbiting one of them could host an advanced civilization capable of transmitting signals. By similar to the Sun, he refers to stars that share the same temperature, radius, and luminosity.

The search returned only one candidate. “The only potential Sun-like star in the entire region from which the Wow! Signal came from. seems to be 2MASS 19281982-2640123“, says Caballero in an article published in the arXiv repository. This star is located in the constellation Sagittarius at a distance of 1,800 light years. It is an identical twin to our Sun, with the same temperature, radius, and luminosity.

Of course, Caballero’s work does not mean that 2MASS 19281982-2640123 must have been the source. Point out that there are many stars in that region of the sky that are too faint to be included in the catalog. One of them could be the source, reports astronomy.com.

But for the moment, 2MASS 19281982-2640123 is the best bet and a good candidate for future studies. Knight says an obvious target would be look for signs of exoplanets orbiting this star. It could also be prioritized for study in the radioelectric part of the spectrum.