Scientists employ new strategy in search for extraterrestrial civilizations

by WorldTribune Staff, May 31, 2023

Scientists are using new tools and expanding their search for extraterrestrial civilizations.

The scientists are focusing their search on the core of the Milky Way galaxy.

A star-dense region toward the core of the Milky Way is being monitored for a type of signal that could be produced by potential intelligent aliens that until now has been ignored, according to researchers working on the Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS) project, a collaborative effort between Cornell University, the SETI Institute research organization, and Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million initiative to search for extraterrestrial life.

Previous efforts have focused on a narrowband radio signal type concentrated in a limited frequency range or on single unusual transmissions, Reuters noted in a May 31 report on the project.

“The new initiative, scientists said on Wednesday, focuses on a different signal type that perhaps could enable advanced civilizations to communicate across the vast distances of interstellar space,” the report said.

The scientists are monitoring for wideband pulsating signals which feature repetitive patterns – a series of pulses repeating every 11 to 100 seconds and spread across a few kilohertz, similar to pulses used in radar transmission. The search involves a frequency range covering a bit less than a tenth the width of an average FM radio station.

“The signals searched in our work would belong to the category of deliberate ‘we are here’ type beacons from alien worlds,” said Akshay Suresh, a Cornell University graduate student in astronomy and lead author of a scientific paper published in the Astronomical Journal describing the new effort.

“Aliens may possibly use such beacons for galaxy-wide communications, for which the core of the Milky Way is ideally placed. One may imagine aliens using such transmissions at the speed of light to communicate key events, such as preparations for interstellar migration before the explosive death of a massive star,” Suresh added.

The BLIPPS project is Using a ground-based radio telescope in West Virginia and focusing on a sliver of the sky less than one-200th of the area covered by the moon, stretching toward the center of the Milky Way roughly 27,000 light years away. This area contains about 8 million stars, Suresh said.

The scientists said their monitoring effort is passive, scanning only for signals of alien beings and not actively sending their own signals advertising our presence on Earth.

“In my opinion, transmission of ‘we are here’ type beacons comes with the danger of potentially inviting aliens with unknown intentions to the Earth,” Suresh said.

No aliens yet have been detected in the monitoring efforts.

“Thus far, we have not come across any definitive evidence. However, it’s important to note that our exploration has been limited to a relatively small parameter space,” said study co-author Vishal Gajjar of the SETI Institute and University of California, Berkeley.

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