Russia has denied claims that it has spent the past year covering up the existence of an alien civilisation.
Astronomers have released fresh details about the discovery of a mysterious signal which was picked up in 2015, but only revealed this week.
The unexplained transmission appeared to be coming from a distant star which resembled our own sun and also had at least one planet orbiting it.
Alien hunters hailed the news as evidence that extraterrestrials were living in the star system, which is called HD 164595 and located in the Hercules constellation.
claimed the mystery signal was a «terrestrial disturbance rather than a sound from an unearthly civilisation».
Yulia Sotnikova, an astronomer at the Zelenchukskaya observatory in the North Caucasus, said: «Last and this year, the telescope’s work has focused on searching for sun-like stars.
«There have been no scientific results within the framework of this research so far. Some time ago, in the spring of this year, an unusual signal was received but its analysis showed that it was most likely a terrestrial disturbance.»
However, the stargazer did not clarify exactly what this disturbance might be.
Russia has been involved in the search for extraterrestrial since the Soviet era, when Alexander Ipatov, director of the Institute of Applied Astronomy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was astonished to receive a similar signal, which also appeared to be sent by aliens.
«An additional check showed that it was emanating from a Soviet military satellite, which had not been entered into any of the catalogues of celestial bodies,» he said.
The signal which was announced this week appeared to be extremely powerful, which some conspiracy theorists said would mean it was sent by aliens using technology which makes humanity’s comparatively primitive communications devices look as primitive as yoghurt pots connected with string.
Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, said the signal would have to be sent by an extremely powerful transmitter which would use up “hundreds of times more energy than all the sunlight falling on Earth, and would obviously require power sources far beyond any we have”.
This “requires an effort far, far beyond what we ourselves could do, and it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to target our solar system with a strong signal,” he added.
“This star system is so far away they won’t have yet picked up any TV or radar that would tell them that we’re here.”
The alien hunter was one of the first people to cast doubt on claims the signal was sent by extraterrestrials.
He added: “There are many other plausible explanations for this claimed transmission – including terrestrial interference.
“Without a confirmation of this signal, we can only say that it’s ‘interesting’.”
Of course, boring old science alone isn’t enough to dampen the imagination of the hordes of conspiracy theorists and alien hunters who congregate online.
Until Russia clarifies the nature of its «terrestrial interference», the wild speculation is likely to continue.