Repeated signals from the center of the Milky Way could be aliens waving, study finds

Repeated signals from the center of the Milky Way could be aliens waving, study finds

June 2, 2023, 10:15 PM

June 2, 2023, 10:15 PM

SETI scientists have a new strategy for hunting down alien signals. The initiative, the scientists reported, focuses on a different type of signal that could perhaps allow advanced civilizations to communicate across the vast distances of interstellar space. (few)

SETI scientists have a new strategy for hunting down alien signals. The new initiative focuses on a different kind of signal that could perhaps allow advanced civilizations to communicate across vast distances. (few)

Scientists have expanded their search for technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations by monitoring a region of dense star formation toward the core of our galaxy in search of a type of signal that could be produced by possible intelligent aliens and has hitherto been ignored.

Until now, efforts to detect alien technological signals have focused on a type of narrow-band radio signal concentrated in a limited frequency range or unusual single transmissions. The new initiative, the scientists reported, focuses on a different type of signal that could perhaps allow advanced civilizations to communicate across the vast distances of interstellar space.

These broadband pulsing signals that scientists are monitoring have repetitive patterns: a series of pulses that repeat every 11 to 100 seconds and spread out over a few kilohertz, similar to the pulses used in radar transmission. The search is carried out in a range of frequencies that covers a little less than a tenth part of the width of an average FM radio station.

According to Akshay Suresh, an astronomy student at Cornell University and lead author of a scientific paper published in the journal Astronomical Journal describing the new work, “the signals sought in our work would fall into the category of deliberate ‘we are here’ beacons from extraterrestrial worlds.”

“It is possible that aliens use these beacons to communicate with the entire galaxy, for which the core of the Milky Way is in an ideal position. It is possible to imagine that aliens use this type of transmission at the speed of light to communicate key events, such as preparations for an interstellar migration before the explosive death of a massive star,” Suresh added.

Advanced Alien Life Search

The project, called Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS), is the result of a collaboration between Cornell, the research organization SETI Institute, and Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million initiative to search for advanced alien life.

“In the realm of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, we are embarking on a journey to detect signals from technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations,” says astronomer and study co-author Vishal Gajjar of the SETI Institute and the University of California at Berkeley.

“However, the nature of these signals remains a mystery, leaving us uncertain about their specific characteristics. Hence, it is crucial to explore a diverse set of signals that are unlikely to occur naturally in the cosmic environment.” adds Gajjar.

Using a ground-based radio telescope in West Virginia, BLIPSS has focused on a strip of sky equivalent to less than one-200th the surface area covered by the Moon, extending toward the center of the Milky Way, about 27,000 years away. distance light. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year: 9.5 trillion kilometers.

This area contains about 8 million stars, according to Suresh. If alien life forms exist, presumably they would inhabit rocky planets orbiting in what is called the habitable zone around a star: neither too hot nor too cold.

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