Famous Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking is leading a team of scientists investigating a possible ‘alien megastructure’ orbiting a distant star.
Professor Hawking is spearheading an £81million project to find out whether aliens are responsible for the mysterious behaviour of a star called KIC8462852, or Tabby’s Star.
Tabby’s Star can be seen dimming in regular cycles which some analysts say is a sign of a Dyson Sphere – a hypothetical structure which could be used by an alien race to harness energy.
Jason Wright of Penn State University said the signals looked like something “an alien civilisation could build”.
He said: “I can’t figure this thing out and that’s why it’s so interesting, so cool – it just doesn’t seem to make sense.”
Now scientists at the University of California are planning to use a huge telescope to examine the object – which is located more than 1,400 light years from Earth – more closely over the next decade.
Although the star has been examined with Hubble and other powerful instruments, researchers plan to use new technologies to observe it over a period of three nights.
The object will be examined more closely than ever before generating a huge amount of data by a team of SETI scientists – which stands for the ‘search for extra terrestrial intelligence’.
“It’s been looked at with Hubble, it’s been looked at with Keck, it’s been looked at in the infrared and radio and high energy, and every possible thing you can imagine, including a whole range of SETI experiments. Nothing has been found.”
“The Breakthrough Listen program has the most powerful SETI equipment on the planet, and access to the largest telescopes on the planet.
“We can look at it with greater sensitivity and for a wider range of signal types than any other experiment in the world.”