Astronomers are looking for alien life in the center of the Milky Way galaxy in a ground-breaking new project.
Researchers at Cornell University and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute will be listening for intermittent signals coming from the core of our galaxy.
The area is dense with stars and possible habitable exoplanets, so they believe that is the best place to be looking.
The combined team, called the Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS), believes that if an alien civilization wanted to communicate with others throughout the Milky Way, the galaxy’s core holds potential as a strategic site for a beacon.
BLIPPS aims to survey one million nearby stars, the entire galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies at a wide range of radio and optical bands.
“BLIPSS showcases the cutting-edge potential of software as a science multiplier for SETI,” said Akshay Suresh, a graduate student at Cornell.
“Until now, radio SETI has primarily dedicated its efforts to the search for continuous signals,” said Dr. Vishal Gajjar, a SETI Institute astronomer. “Our study sheds light on the remarkable energy efficiency of a train of pulses as a means of interstellar communication across vast distances. Notably, this study marks the first-ever comprehensive endeavor to conduct in-depth searches for these signals.”
The team began by testing their algorithm on known pulsars, successfully detecting the expected periodic emissions.
Subsequently, they turned their attention to a dataset of scans of the Galactic Center captured by the Breakthrough Listen instrument on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia.
Unlike pulsars, which emit signals across a broad range of radio frequencies, BLIPSS narrowed its search to repeating signals within a narrower frequency range, covering less than a tenth of the width of an average FM radio station.
The significance of this approach is that it combines narrow bandwidths with periodic patterns that could signify planned technological activities by intelligent civilizations.
Suresh’s technique presents a novel methodology to sift through this metaphorical haystack, enabling the team to identify tantalizing evidence of advanced extraterrestrial life forms. The study was published in the Astronomical Journal.
SETI was founded in 1984 and is a non-profit, multidisciplinary research institute that encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning, and advanced signal detection technologies.
The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Sterling Creighton Beard