Physicist Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Listen is investigating the alleged Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence signal detected with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey by scientists Ermanno Borra and Eric Trottier from Laval University in Canada. The duo claims that of the 2.5 million stars observed, around 234 stars emitted strobe-like bursts that have exactly the same shape of light pulses that could be produced by intelligent beings.

In a statement, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research Centre at the University of California Berkeley says, “The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional study. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations.”

SETI runs the Breakthrough Listen project, which is supported by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. They add, “Internationally agreed-upon protocols for searches for evidence of advanced life beyond Earth (SETI) require candidates to be confirmed by independent groups using their own telescopes, and for all natural explanations to be exhausted before invoking extraterrestrial agents as an explanation.”

Ermanno Borra and Eric Trottier claim they have considered the most obvious explanations for the ET signals they detected. They say that the results could not have been caused by errors in instrumental or data analysis. It could also be possible that these signals were made by rotational transitions in molecules or rapid pulsations. Still, they insist that these signals were most likely created by intelligent aliens, adding, “We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis.”