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With a twinkle, pulsating stars could deliver signals from E.T.

Neutrino beams could turn Cepheids into messengers

By
8:06pm, September 26, 2008

Searching for signals from extraterrestrials can be a ticklish business. Astronomer John Learned thinks tickling certain stars in just the right way might be a good strategy for ET to phone Earth.

Those stars, known as Cepheid variables, brighten and dim on a regular schedule. In 1908, after analyzing stars on photographic plates at Harvard College Observatory, Henrietta Swan Leavitt reported that a Cepheid’s maximum brightness depends on the timing of its bright-dim cycle. The longer the period, the brighter the star. Other astronomers soon realized that they

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