The members of the Seti program, specifically the Breakthrough Listen project , have just released the results of the largest and most accurate extraterrestrial techno-signature research campaign. The researchers returned empty-handed but not discouraged because we have only scratched the surface of the world exoplanets.
Remember, in September 1959, the journal Nature published a visionary article by , who played an important role in setting up the of , and , who had participated in the Manhattan project. Its title, , would become famous in the form of an acronym, Seti.
The two physicists held the following reasoning: if advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist in the, they could communicate with each other or with their colonies using waves. Considering the most conducive to the distant transmission of clear signals, despite the radio galactic background, they had concluded that the most suitable radio band was the narrow one, surrounding the 21-centimeter wave length.
In addition, this band corresponds to a so-called transition hyper fine in theof neutral, the most abundant element in the . So it was a good way to establish a standard of communication, naturally adopted by any developed civilization.
A young radio astronomer, Frank Drake, had reached similar conclusions. When he was posted to the Green Bank Ozma project, named after a princess from Oz. For two two-month periods Drake and his colleagues listened with the Green Bank radio telescope to two like less than 15 , Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani., on April 8, 1960 he launched the
The result was negative. Sixty years after Drake, still alive, the Seti program is still relevant. In 2015, it received a major boost through the project Breakthrough Initiative billionaire Yuri Milner. Backed at the time bywell as , the Nobel Prize in and science advisor of the film Interstellar, and Ann Druyan, the widow of , he was aiming to give 100 million dollars in ten years to the Seti program.
The Breakthrough Initiative project actually comes in two parts. The first and most important – the Breakthrough Listen – consists of trying to detect ET civilization in the radio field but also in the form of pulses; the second -the Breakthrough Message– launches a $ 1 million competition. It is open to all and consists in proposing a message to one of the possible civilizations AND that the project could reveal. It is therefore in line with the Golden Record but also the famous message of Arecibo, concocted and sent by Franck Drake and Carl Sagan, using the great Arecibo radio telescope, November 16, 1974.
Today, the members of Breakthrough Listen make an initial assessment of three years of ET techno signature hunting, again with the radio telescope of Green Bank in the United States but also that of Parkes in Australia. The Automated Planet Finder Telescope (APF), a 2.4 -meter fully robotic optical at the Lick Observatory (California) already used to search for also entered the dance. Two articles on report on it. This is the most important research done by the Seti program in its history. The data collected, which have already been the subject of analysis of the researchers, are also made public and can be used by anyone who had new ideas to explore their content, for example through the using d an .
In total, 1,327 near stars in a sphere whose radius is about 160 light-years around thehave been listened to and observed. The of data collected is equivalent to one petabyte, which is approximately 1,600 years of continuous listening from your favorite online music service.
For Danny Price, one of the radio astronomers at the head of this project: “This release of data is an important step for the Breakthrough Listen team. We analyzed thousands of hours of observations of nearby stars on billions ofchannels . We did not find any evidence of extraterrestrial artificial signals, but that does not mean that there is no intelligent life out there: we may not have looked at the right place yet, nor seen quite carefully.”
The quest for one of the grails of MeerKAT program in South Africa, which should concern this time a million stars.will therefore continue, especially with the