After a year of observations, scientists ‘listening’ to extraterrestrial signals originating from elsewhere in the universe have released their initial results—11 strange signals.
After gathering a huge amount of data, and combing through it afterward, the Breakthrough Listen team has selected 11 events they considered to be the most significant.
Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:
The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.
The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.
The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.
Experts have submitted a scientific paper which details over 600 stars across different spectral types. According to scientists, they act as a ‘launch pad’ for further investigations.
The revolutionary initiative was backed by Stephen Hawking and billionaire Yuri Milner who have allowed scientists to search the cosmos using the Green Bank Radio Telescope in West Virginia, Lick Observatory’s Automated Planet Finder on Mt Hamilton in California, and the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia.
As noted by Phys.org, so far, experts have collected several petabytes of scientific data after pointing telescopes towards 692 stars in the universe—and each one of them gets between three to five-minute observations which are interspersed with observations of other targets.
Experts have designated around 1700 stars that will eventually be studied in search for Alien signals.
Scientists have categorized the stars in two main groups: those which are located within 1 light-years of our Sun, and other stars which belong to a sample which spreads across a main sequence and a branch of stars located no more than 163 light-years from us.
So far, experts have identified 11 signals that they believe are worth further research. While at this time they still don’t believe its ALIENS, scientists will continue analyzing the signals in order to fully understand what caused them.
Scientists note that the process of sifting the data is rather simple and straightforward—first, distinguish artificial signals from natural signals by looking at irregular behavior such as modulation or pulsing patterns.
In order to understand whether the strange signals are from aliens or not, scientists need to make sure they were not generated here on Earth.
Dr. Andrew Siemion of BSRC said: With the submission of this paper, the first scientific results from Breakthrough Listen are now available for the world to review. Although the search has not yet detected a convincing signal from extraterrestrial intelligence, these are early days. The work that has been completed so far provides a launch pad for deeper and more comprehensive analysis to come.
Interestingly, the software is open source so anyone who wants to participate in the search can do so.
Featured image: breakthroughinitiatives.org