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The Sciences

No, NASA hasn’t found aliens

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMay 13, 2008 6:52 AM

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The web is abuzz about a NASA announcement of "the discovery of an object in our Galaxy astronomers have been hunting for more than 50 years". There's speculation running rampant, that they've found aliens, or an asteroid that will wipe out the Earth, or whatever. Folks, think. If NASA had that news, would they make a pre-announcement stating they found something they've been looking for for five decades? No, they wouldn't. They would gather professionals, work on how to release the news, then talk to members of the press, probably just a few, and keep extremely tight wraps on it. They wouldn't bellow, "We found something, and it's really cool, and we're not talking until next week lalalalalala!" Without doubt this is some very interesting astronomical discovery, but not something that will wipe out life, or change our view of humanity in the Universe forever. It just wouldn't be released this way. Bear in mind that the press pre-release mentions the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which is essentially blind to incoming asteroids, and wouldn't be the right instrument to use to see them. Obviously, whatever this discovery is it involves X-rays, and those only come from a handful of sources. But they're very interesting objects astronomically, so whatever this thing is I'm sure it will still be really cool. Just not aliens-invading cool. So stay tuned. I'm signed up for the telecon, and I'll report on this as soon as I have any real information.

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