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Proxima Centauri seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA

Scientists with the alien-searching Breakthrough Listen project are investigating a signal that may have come from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, according to a report from The Guardian.

Why it matters: If confirmed as a true sign of life, it would be wildly exciting. However, in all likelihood, the radio signal — found in 2019 — has a much more mundane origin story.

What's happening: According to The Guardian, scientists with Breakthrough picked up a "narrow beam of radio waves" during observations with the Australian Parkes telescope in May and April of 2019.

  • These narrow beams are of particular interest because they look like the kinds of radio waves humans send out into the universe, but that also makes it harder to parse whether a signal like this is alien or human in origin.
  • The scientists behind the discovery haven't been able to find an obvious explanation for the signal and are now performing follow-up observations to try to piece it together.
  • "The most obvious thing for them to do is to go back and use either Parkes or another observatory with similar sensitivity and just look again," the SETI Institute's Seth Shostak, who isn't involved with the new research, told me.

What to watch: It's still possible this signal is actually being emitted by some human cause that has yet to be found.

  • Or, the signal might even be coming from some other cosmic source with properties that have yet to be pinned down.
  • What's next: These possibilities will require follow-up observations to give scientists a good sense of what actually produced the signal in the first place.

Be smart: The scientists have yet to publish their full findings, and it will still take a lot of analysis and confirmation to know whether or not the signal is truly alien in nature.Go deeper: Alien hunters discover mysterious signal from Proxima Centauri (Scientific American)

Go deeper

The online far right is moving underground

Data: Apptopia; Chart: Axios Visuals

The online purge of far-right figures and platforms that followed last week's Capitol insurrection looks to be driving radicalized users into darker corners of the internet.

What's happening: Downloads have surged for messaging apps that are securely encrypted or designed to cater specifically to the ultra-conservative user.

Updated 41 seconds ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.