Allen Telescope Array Checks Out Star KIC 8462852

Could there be intelligent life hanging out in the vicinity of the star system KIC 8462852?  The strange and strong dimming of this star has encouraged speculation that a technologically sophisticated civilization has built megastructures in orbit there. 

Given this possibility, the SETI Institute has trained its Allen Telescope Array on this star for more than two weeks.  Finding a signal would be a strong indication for the presence of intelligence.


Two different types of radio signals were sought: (1) Narrow-band transmissions, of order 1 Hz in width, that could be used as a “hailing signal” for societies wishing to betray their presence, and, (2) Broad-band signals produced by intense microwaves used to propel rockets servicing the megastructure.

Analysis of the Array data show no clear evidence for either type of signal between the frequencies of 1 and 10 GHz.  This rules out omnidirectional transmitters of more than approximately 100 times today’s total terrestrial energy usage in the case of the narrow-band signals, and ten million times that usage for broad band emissions. 

While these limits are relatively high, a fact due primarily to the large distance of KIC 8462852 (about 1500 light-years), there’s this to consider: If aliens are deliberately targeting our part of the galaxy, the necessary transmitter power for detection becomes very much less.  In addition, any beings able to build such large structures will have access to far more energy than a fossil-fueled society like our own.

We will continue to monitor this star with the Allen Telescope Array.  Read the press release describing our results at