There’s something out there — maybe.

China’s science ministry said this week that it picked up signs of alien life on the world’s largest radio telescope — then appeared to quickly delete a report about the discovery.

The country’s powerful Sky Eye telescope detected electromagnetic signals of possible civilizations on other planets,  according to a report published Tuesday in Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

“[There were] several cases of possible technological traces and extraterrestrial civilizations from outside the earth,” the report said.

The team of researchers, headed by the Beijing Normal University, said the mysterious frequencies were unlike anything they’d previously encountered and were investigating further, according to the report.

PINGTANG, CHINA - JUNE 13: A view of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) near its completion on June 13, 2016 in the remote Pingtang county, China.  The project, one of China's nine most important scientific research facilities, will be the world's largest radio telescope, boasting of 250,000 square meters of reflective surface.  PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China /
China appeared to quickly delete a report about the discovery.
Feature China/Future Publishing via Getty Images

But the report had apparently been removed from the newspaper’s website by Wednesday — even as the news began trending on the nation’s popular social network site, Weibo, along with other media outlets, according to TIME.com

It was not immediately clear why the article had been yanked from the website.

But Zhang Tonjie, chief scientist of the university’s extraterrestrial civilization search team,  was quoted in the report saying the signals could have been radio interference.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is nestled within a natural basin in China's remote and mountainous southwestern Guizhou province. Nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, the new radio telescope is seen in this photograph taken near the start of its testing phase of operations on September 25, 2016. Designed with an active surface for pointing and focusing, its enormous dish antenna is constructed with 4,450 individual triangular-shaped panels. The 500 meter physical diameter of the dish makes FAST the largest filled, single dish radio telescope on planet Earth. FAST will explore the Universe at radio frequencies, detecting emission from hydrogen gas in the Milky Way and distant galaxies, finding faint galactic and extragalactic pulsars, and searching for potential radio signals from extraterrestrials.
The team of researchers said the mysterious frequencies were unlike anything they’d previously encountered and were investigating further.
Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

“The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out. This may be a long process,” said Zhang. 

The 500-meter, single-dish Sky Eye launched in southwestern Guizhou province in September 2020 with the primary goal of detecting life on other planets.

In 2020, researchers also detected two sets of suspicious signals along with a signal earlier this year linked to so-called “exoplanet targets,” Zhang said, according to the report.

The latest research was also conducted by the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley.


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