London, September 9 : A new research has suggested that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations may be sending signals through space by "tickling" stars, which would act as the galactic equivalent of the internet.
"If it exists, it might be revealed by an analysis of already-existing stellar data," said John Learned of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.
According to a report in New Scientist, Learned and his colleagues have focused their attention on stars that vary regularly in brightness.
Crucially, these "Cepheid variables" are so luminous they can be seen as far away as 60 million light years.
Jolting the star with a kick of energy - possibly by shooting it with a beam of high-energy particles called neutrinos - could advance the pulsation by causing its core to heat up and expand, according to the researchers.
That could shorten its brightness cycle - just as an electric stimulus to a human heart at the right time can advance a heartbeat.
The normal and shortened cycles could be used to encode binary "0"s and "1"s.
The team said that information could thus be shuttled around our galaxy's network of 500 or so Cepheids - and out as far as the Virgo cluster of galaxies.
"The beauty of the idea is that we have over a century of data on Cepheid variability so it is necessary only to look at it a new way to spot the signature of ET tampering," Learned told New Scientist.