Astronomers are one step closer to learning whether there is life beyond Earth, following the discovery of an exoplanet that can emit a “coherent” radio signal.
A magnetic field on a planet is the first sign it’s capable of being habitable, as it prevents radiation.
On Earth, our magnetic field extends from the molten iron in the planet’s core into space and protects life from cosmic radiation and charged particles released from the sun.
Now, researchers from the United States believe they’ve uncovered an alien planet that could have its own magnetic field, indicating to them, at least, that it could be supporting extraterrestrial beings.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, astrophysicists found rocky planet YZ Ceti was deflecting repeated radio signals from the star it orbits around.
Although still invisible to us, the sounds emitted have the pair theorising that the planet has an Earth-like field and is interacting with its star to generate the signal.
We won’t be saddling up to go check out the rocky world, however; planet YZ Ceti is about 12 light years away.
But it may be where a problem has originated for a remote Central Queensland property in Australia, after a number of cows were found dead in inexplicable circumstances.
Over 18 years, graziers Judy and Mick Cook say 20 cows have been killed in the same strange manner on their Eungella property – organs removed with surgical precision, without a trace of blood left at the scene.
The most recent death was six months ago, according to The Daily Mercury, when the couple found the carcass of a cow with its udder, cheek and tongue cleanly removed. Once again, there was no blood or marks of movement at the scene.
The “only explanation” they can come to for the mutilations is as strange as the crimes themselves: aliens.
“How is it happening? It must have something that lifts it up and puts it down and doesn’t leave any marks,” Judy Cook told The Daily Mercury.
“[Aliens are] the only explanation I have got.”
The baffled cattle owners told the publication they previously never believed in the supernatural, but started to think it could be something inhuman after seeing “really strange lights in the sky around our property”.
“One night there was a light in the distance, very bright, we couldn’t tell how close it was,” Mick Cook said.
“It looked like it was just on the boundary of the property where I had found a mob of cattle out that way the next day who looked terrorised, and they started running as soon as I got close to them, which was very strange.”
Strange lights, mutilated bovines. It must be aliens, maybe from the invisible planet YZ Ceti.
They are the Cooks’ cows and they are entitled to believe what they want. But it is reminiscent of the “jam-eating poltergeist”, a notorious episode in the chequered history of the NZ Truth newspaper in the 1980s.
A letter to the newspaper complained of an unexplained intruder who repeatedly raided a pantry over a series of nights. All that was touched, apparently, was a jar of jam that steadily lost some of its contents and was left on the floor each time.
A reporter consulted with a spiritualist and they collaborated on a story, quoting the woman’s account, her bewilderment, and concluding the most rational explanation was a jam-obsessed ghost.
The furious letter-writer complained to the Press Council, where the reporter’s explanation was readily dismissed and the paper was ordered to publish a long condemnation.
By the time the newspaper published the Press Council decision, the woman had tumbled - the culprit was a sweet-toothed possum.
If cows are being harassed by something, that something is almost certainly something much more mundane than creatures from outer space.
Why come all that way for a slice of carpaccio and not at least try some jam?