Scientists are currently engaged in a search for extraterrestrial life by carefully monitoring the radio pulses emanating from the central region of our galaxy.
The quest to find aliens through radio signals takes a new approach, considering the possibility that intelligent beings may be lurking in the heart of the Milky Way galaxy.
Pulsars, a type of star, naturally emit narrow-frequency pulses, which are also deliberately utilized in human technology like radar. These pulses can stand out amidst the background radio noise of space, making them potentially effective for long-distance communication. Hence, scientists have deemed them a viable option to listen for while searching for alien civilizations.
In a recently published study in The Astronomical Journal, researchers, led by Cornell University graduate student Akshay Suresh, described their new strategy for alien hunting.
The team developed software capable of detecting repetitive frequency patterns, which they tested on known pulsars known for emitting narrow frequencies. These frequency ranges are incredibly small, approximately one-tenth the width of frequencies typically used by FM radio stations. The researchers then employed this method to search through data collected by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Study co-author Vishal Gajjar from the SETI Institute noted, “Until now, radio SETI has primarily dedicated its efforts to the search for continuous signals. Our study sheds light on the remarkable energy efficiency of a train of pulses as a means of interstellar communication across vast distances. Notably, this study marks the first-ever comprehensive endeavor to conduct in-depth searches for these signals.”
Scientists are focused on monitoring signals originating from the center of the Milky Way because this region is densely populated with stars and potentially harbors habitable exoplanets. Additionally, if intelligent aliens exist at the core of our galaxy and wish to establish contact with other galaxies, they may send signals that span a wide range of planets due to their central location.
“Breakthrough Listen captures huge volumes of data, and Akshay’s technique provides a new method to help us search that haystack for needles that could provide tantalizing evidence of advanced extraterrestrial life forms,” said Steve Croft, study co-author and project scientist with the Breakthrough Listen program.