Astronomer Antonio Paris has proposed a new theory for the mysterious “Wow! signal” detected nearly 40 years ago, suggesting that it may have originated from a comet known as 266P/Christensen. Paris published his hypothesis in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, pointing out that comets, under certain conditions, can emit radio waves from the gases surrounding them as they approach the sun. He noted that Comet 266P/Christensen was situated in the right position in 1977 when the Wow! signal was detected. Paris conducted experiments with radio telescopes to observe the emissions of such radio waves from comets and found evidence supporting his hypothesis.
However, several astronomers, including Jerry Ehman, the astronomer who discovered the Wow! signal, remain skeptical. They argue that comets wouldn’t produce a signal with such characteristics because the gas surrounding them covers large and diffuse areas. The Wow! signal was intense and narrow in frequency, but the signal’s sudden appearance and disappearance could resemble other phenomena, such as fast radio bursts (FRBs). Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, is skeptical about the emission frequency, stating that comets may not produce a signal as bright as the Wow! signal.
The Wow! signal, named for its striking and unusual characteristics, was detected on August 15, 1977, at The Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope during the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). While Paris’ theory provides a possible explanation, many astronomers remain unconvinced, emphasizing the need for further investigation into this enigmatic signal.