Home Radio waves The 4th search for aliens near the center of the Milky Way is empty

The 4th search for aliens near the center of the Milky Way is empty

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A radical search for extraterrestrial technology in the middle of the Milky Way became dry.

The search, the fourth in a series looking for low-frequency radio waves that could be produced by extraterrestrial civilizations, found no evidence of ET. But improvements in telescope technology mean the strategy could be a way to find other technologically advanced companies in the future, the study authors wrote in a paper published in the Preprint Database. arXiv February 7.

Led by Chenoa Tremblay, a postdoctoral researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, the researchers used the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia to search for low-frequency radio waves. radio waves are a promising “technosignature” of extraterrestrial civilizations, the researchers wrote, as they are likely one of the first long-range communication methods that an intelligent life form will stumble upon. (Humans began using radio waves to communicate in the late 1800s.)

Related: 9 Weird, Science-Based Excuses Why Humans Haven’t Found Aliens Yet

This was the team’s fourth sweep of a large area of ​​sky. They chose to focus on the galactic center because this region of the Milky Way has a high density of stars. More stars means more potential star systems, and therefore more planets where life could evolve. Of course, there’s a chance that this area of ​​the Milky Way is less promising for extraterrestrial life than more distant stretches, the authors wrote; more stars also means more supernovae and high-energy flares of magnetars, magnetized neutron stars surrounded by strong magnetic fields.

Nonetheless, the team aimed the telescope array at 144 known exoplanet systems near the middle of the Milky Way. They also performed a wider “blind” search for an area containing at least 3 million stars within 6,000 cubic parsecs. (A parsec is a measurement of astronomical distance equal to 3.26 light-years.) This indiscriminate search would also have picked up radio signals from more distant stars, spanning perhaps billions of potential star systems.

The researchers refined their detection of radio waves around 155 megahertz and searched for seven hours over two nights in September 2020.

Unfortunately for dreams of a federation of “Star Trek” planets, researchers have found no signs of alien technology. But they don’t intend to stop looking. The Murchison Widefield Array has since been updated to have better sensitivity, the researchers wrote, and improvements in the calculation could allow searches of even larger areas of the sky.

“The continuous improvement of the telescope’s capabilities, when combined with methodical observing campaigns, provides a means to explore the vast parameter space in which technologically capable signs of life may be waiting to be found,” they wrote in the study.

Originally posted on Live Science.