A strong signal from a neighboring solar system has E.T. seekers speculating

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Astronomers Have Found Top 20 Places Alien Life Could Exist

SETI has been listening to the universe at 1420 MHz, the emission frequency of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. They reasoned it was the one obvious astronomical commonality we would share with an unknown civilization and that they would recognize it too. Now, SETI's honing in on a new blip in the radar.

Is someone trying to phone home? Astronomers at the SETI institute have detected "a strong signal" in the direction of HD164595, a star 95 light years from Earth. At least one Neptune-sized planet orbits this star.

It was observed by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, in southern Russia. If the signal did come deliberately from a beacon broadcasting in all directions, as SETI is theorizing, it would require the technology of an advanced civilization, capable of converting energy from a nearby star into communication and power, as Paul Gilster reports in his blog Centauri Dreams. There are a few theories on why a civilization would send out this kind of signal, including a graffiti tag style "We were here" message, an ode to glory days, a funeral pyre or an SOS call for help.

RELATED: 11 bizarre things the Mars Orbiter has spotted:

11 bizarre things the Mars Orbiter has spotted
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11 bizarre things the Mars Orbiter has spotted

1. Water may (sometimes) flow

The MRO has provided the most convincing evidence yet that small amounts of extremely salty liquid water may still flow on the surface of Mars. 

The orbiter found that some ice may melt as the red planet warms during particular seasons, allowing the liquid to run down hills, creating streaks on the Martian surface.


2. Other spacecraft on the planet

The MRO has also kept an eye on other spacecraft that are exploring Mars from the surface.

The orbiter has snapped photos of the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers from its post above the planet. The MRO even caught sight of Curiosity as it descended to its landing spot via parachute.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

3. Potential landing sites for new missions

The MRO has also scouted out new landing sites for other missions to Mars. Most recently, scientists have used the spacecraft's data to map out possible landing targets for a human mission to Mars.

Photo courtesy: JPL

4. Fresh craters

The MRO has also treated scientists to views of relatively fresh craters on Mars. 

One crater -- which appeared in photos in 2010 -- was not in images taken in 2008, meaning that whatever impact created the crater happened in between those years.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

5. A possible supervolcano

Thanks to data beamed back to Earth from the MRO, scientists now think that there might be a supervolcano lurking beneath the surface of a very old crater on Mars' surface.

"On Mars, young volcanoes have a very distinctive appearance that allows us to identify them," scientist Joseph Michalski, said in a statement in 2013. 

"The longstanding question has been what ancient volcanoes on Mars look like. Perhaps they look like this one," he said.


6. A dust devil spotted

The MRO also captured an incredible image of a 12-mile-high dust devil swirling on the red planet in 2012. 

While the Martian atmosphere is thinner than Earth's, wind can still whip up dust storms and dust devils on the planet, according to NASA.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

7. Martian sand dunes

The MRO has also snapped photos of fields of sand dunes on Mars, which change shape according to which way the wind blows from season to season.

At the moment, the Curiosity rover is exploring some of these martian sand dunes for the first time, investigating the sand of the red planet from close range.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

8. An avalanche

One particularly incredible photo taken in August 2015 shows an avalanche of frost falling off a scarp. The orbiter managed to catch the avalanche at the exact moment the frost was falling.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

9. Phobos and Deimos

The MRO doesn't only have eyes for Mars. 

The spacecraft has also taken some stunning photos of the red planet's moons, Phobos and Deimos, giving people on Earth a sense of the strange color of the oddly shaped moons.

Photo courtesy: NASA

9. Phobos and Deimos

The MRO doesn't only have eyes for Mars. 

The spacecraft has also taken some stunning photos of the red planet's moons, Phobos and Deimos, giving people on Earth a sense of the strange color of the oddly shaped moons.

Photo courtesy: NASA

10. A tumbling boulder

After 10 years in orbit, the MRO has definitely seen some weird stuff on the world's surface. 

One of those strange sights was the path left by an oddly shaped boulder rolling down a slope. The MRO caught some images of the tumbling rock in 2014, even spotting the area where it landed upright.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

11. Frozen carbon dioxide

The MRO's imager also spotted gullies of frost on Martian plains, which look somewhat like the patterns deltas carve on the surface of Earth.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has clocked more than a decade of service at the Red Planet and has yielded scientific discoveries and magnificent views of a distant world. These images taken by MRO's HiRISE camera are not in true color because they include infrared information in order to be optimized for geological science. For more info about MRO go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mro

But don't get your tinfoil hats out just yet. As Nick Suntzeff, a Texas A&M University astronomer, told Ars Technica, it wouldn't be surprising if we were just listening to ourselves, as the signal was observed in a part of the radio spectrum used by the military, for communication between ground stations and satellites.

A SETI committee meeting will discuss this finding at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on September 27.

"We can't claim the detection of an extraterrestrial civilization from this observation," Gilster writes. "What we can say is that the signal is interesting and merits further scrutiny."

Now check out: Alien-looking, otherwordly landscapes found on Earth:

Alien-looking, otherwordly landscapes found on Earth
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Alien-looking, otherwordly landscapes found on Earth
Dragon blood trees in rocky landscape, Homhil Protected Area, Socotra, Yemen
Mysterious moving rocks at a playa in Death Valley national Park called The Race Track
Turkey, Central Anatolia, Cappadocia, Unesco World Heritage Site, Uchisar village, the camel driver
Fire crater, gas crater, Door to Hell Darvaza crater, Derweze or Darvaza, Karakum Desert, Dasoguz Province, Turkmenistan
Kristal Icecave in Breiðamerkurljökul glacier in Iceland
The Haleakala silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) is a rare plant found only the island of Maui on the dormant Haleakala volcano.Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind. Flowering events can differ dramatically from one flowering season to the next. The reasons for that are not understood.
Giant's Causeway on a cloudy day - Northern Ireland
Take in Athabasca Glacier, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
United States, Oregon, Dayville
Moeraki rocks found on the east coast of new zealand
High Angle View Of Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone National Park
Frozen methane bubbles at Abraham lake at sunrise with beautiful sky.
A sand dune glows red at last light in this landscape image of the Namib Desert.
Salar de Uyuni hexagons at sunset
Colorful mountain in Danxia landform in Zhangye, Gansu of China.
The enchanting pools of Pamukkale in Turkey. Pamukkale contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Deep underground cave exploration of Karst cave 'Krizna jama', Slovenia. Roughly 8-9 km long, from 30 to 125 m deep, lots of chambers, siphons, corridors, small islands and roughly 40 lakes, stalactites, stalagmites and other specifical Karst rock formations.
Dallol is volcano, Danakil desert, Ethiopia.
Michigan, United States of America
Snow covered wave taken during cold in Coyote Buttes North.
Egypt, Baharija, White desert
Cave halong bay
The blue ice cave at lake Baikal
This image was taken in the Fall of 2008 at Tufa State Park, Mono County, Mono Lake, California. This image is very rare as the lake water level is much higher now. I shot this at the cusp of dawn and no filters were used.
Zabriskie Point with Panamint Range in distance, Mojave Desert. Mutant nature Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located east of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park in California, United States noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago long before Death Valley came into existence.
Baobab trees (Adansonia Grandidieri) reflecting in the water under the milky Way, Morondava, Toliara province, Madagascar.
(GERMANY OUT) Western Australia - Nambung National Park - limestone formations, called Pinnacles, at dusk (Photo by Mayall/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Fingal's Cave on the Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Staffa.
Rocky cliffs reflected in the calm waters of Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National park, Alberta, Canada.
Abstract nature of Lower Antelope Canyon. The canyon is part of a series of slot canyons on Navajo land in Arizona, USA.
Sweden, Halsingland, Voxnan River at sunrise, winter
Huang Shan, Anhui Province, China
Nieve penitente is a spike or pillar of compacted snow or ice caused by differential melting and evaporation.

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