Ms Sheikh, who hopes to earn her doctorate next summer, is leading the police work. She received her BA from the University of California at Berkeley and intended to enroll in particle physics, but found herself adrift into astronomy. I first heard about the Breakthrough Listen and SETI project on Reddit while she was looking for a new college research project.
Of the supposed signal, she said: “I would say we were very skeptical at first, and I’m still skeptical. But, she added, it was “the most interesting signal to go through Breakthrough Listen.”
The team hopes to publish its results in early 2021.
Dr Wertheimer says the Parkes telescope – which transmitted communications to Apollo astronauts – is known for its false alarms. In a recent example, he said, astronomers believed they had discovered a new astrophysical phenomenon.
“It was so exciting that someone noticed that the signals only appeared at lunchtime,” he said. They came from a microwave.
Over the years, SETI astronomers have boasted of their ability to trace the source of suspicious signals and eliminate them before words leak out to the public.
This time their work was reported by The Guardian. “The public wants to know, and we understand it,” said Dr Simeon. However, he and Ms Sheikh say they are far from over.
Ms Sheikh said, “Frankly, there’s still a lot of analysis that we have to do to be convinced that this thing is not an intervention.”