The search for extraterrestrial life just got a whole lot more
expansive - a team of scientists keeping an ear out for alien
transmissions just ballooned their operation to examine 200 times the
number of star systems it had previously.
The Breakthrough Listen Initiative, an effort to intercept radio
transmissions sent out by extraterrestrial civilizations, is now
listening to 288,315 star systems instead of its previous 1,327,
according to preprint research shared online last week. In all, the
change represents a major upgrade to one of the more prominent attempts
to find intelligent life in the Milky Way.
The University of Manchester scientists behind the project made the
improvements after combing through existing European Space Agency data
about the locations and distance from Earth of celestial bodies within
33,000 lightyears, which is the range of their radio telescope.
"Knowing the locations and distances to these additional sources,"
Manchester researcher and team leader Michael Garrett said in a press
release, "greatly improves our ability to constrain the prevalence of
extraterrestrial intelligence in our own galaxy and beyond. We expect
future SETI surveys to also make good use of this approach."
The idea is to identify extraterrestrial civilizations by picking up
radio broadcasts, so figuring out how feasible it is for each star
system to get a message to Earth helped them narrow down their search
while adding the new candidates.
"Our results help to put meaningful limits on the prevalence of
transmitters comparable to what we ourselves can build using
twenty-first-century technology," study coauthor Bart Wlodarczyk-Sroka
said in the release.
READ MORE: Breakthrough narrows intelligent life search in Milky Way
[University of Manchester]
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