An international team of astronomers has presented official data on the results of a massive search for space radio signals, which could be evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life.
The studies were conducted using the largest radio receiver in the world – the observatory in Green Bank (USA). According to EurekAlert, the study was conducted by Breakthrough Listen, based at the University of California at Berkeley. A report on the results was announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A team led by graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Sofia Sheikh, used a method called transit photometry. It allows one to detect extremely small deviations in the spectrum of visible light when a cosmic object passes between us and any star. This method is widely used to search for exoplanets. In this case, astronomers analyzed information obtained using Parkes radio telescopes in Australia and Green Bank in the United States. They searched for radio signals from the 20 closest stars in the so-called C-band – these are radio waves with a frequency of four to eight gigahertz.
“There has been a lot of talk about this region before, but there has never been a targeted search in it,” Sofia Sheikh explains.“
If other civilizations had telescopes like ours, they would know that there are planets in the solar system that block the light of the star, and they’d even know that life exists on Earth. That’s how we discovered thousands of other exoplanets, so we can assume that this is how other intelligent species find planets. And if they know that we are here, they can give us a signal.”
However, as follows from the report, the Sheikh and her team have not yet found any technical radio signals that could indicate the existence of an extraterrestrial civilization. Nevertheless, the analysis made it possible to reduce the scope of the search, which will be continued.
“We didn’t find any aliens,” said Andrew Simon, Breakthrough Listen chief researcher, at a media briefing. “
But we must bear in mind that we have set very strict restrictions on the presence of technologically advanced extraterrestrial species in the galaxy – within the radio frequency spectrum of 4-8 gigahertz. the results will allow those who wish to improve the experiment to climb another step. ” We add that in the framework of the project, astronomers directed the telescope to each star for five minutes, and then for the same time took it aside. Then the process was repeated twice more.
As a result, hundreds of radio signals were caught that were initially identified as inexplicable. However, they nevertheless found an explanation. In most cases, these were terrestrial radio interference, and in four cases the “alien” signals turned out to be signals from flying artificial satellites.
According to the study, Breakthrough Listen published almost two petabytes of data. In June last year, a petabyte of data received from radio and optical telescopes was also published. The amount of information is so great that researchers called on the public to look for along with them data on potential signals from intellectually developed civilizations.