Astronomers have collected 8 "possible 'techno-signatures' of intelligent origin - space signals that could represent the first hint of intelligent life beyond our own. And while we don't yet know for sure what these signals could mean, even their simple detection is a huge step forward in the search for extraterrestrial life Before giving you three reasons why this could be "the right time", I'll give you a small recap for those who haven't followed the story.
What exactly happened
A team of experts from the University of Toronto led by Peter Ma used an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm developed together with astronomers from the SETI Institute, Breakthrough Listen and scientific research institutions from around the world to examine 820 stars in an area they didn't think might have any potential activity.
And what they found astounded them. The algorithm has been "trained" to differentiate between human-caused noise by potential "smart" signals, and detected 8 extremely interesting signals from a distance between 30 and 90 light years.
Signs of life in space: it could be the right time
The question is always that: "are we alone in the universe?". For someone obvious, and rationally it is. For many researchers, however, it is heavy as a boulder to the point that fortunately it forces prudence and common sense. With all due caution, there are at least three reasons that make these signals (presented in a study in Nature Astronomy, I link it here) of serious candidates.
First: it's all about signals"narrow band", and those of natural origin generate broad spectrum signals. Second: the signals have a "slope", an indication that their origin is accelerating with respect to our antennas. This makes it very unlikely that they come from our planet, perhaps as interference from our own machinery. Third: the signals appeared only in the ON-source observations and not in the OFF-source ones, another factor which excludes any human radio interference, which instead occurs in both types of observations.
In addition to these 8 signals, waiting to understand each other more, there is another one that certainly comes from our planet: it is the one that speaks of research and machine learning. This work demonstrates the power of new technologies also in the field of astronomy: they will allow us to process much more data. And one day, perhaps, there will be no more doubts.