Scientists are zeroing in on the heart of the Milky Way galaxy to determine the origins of mysterious signals. Researchers suspect that the radio signals are not natural pulses from outer space, but could be signals from extraterrestrial life forms. Some experts warn that it is imperative that humans locate any alien civilization before they find us.
Scientists revealed this week that they are ramping up efforts to hunt for aliens in the core of the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists presented their blueprint for attempting to track down radio pulses emanating from the middle of the galaxy in a scientific paper published in The Astronomical Journal.
Steve Croft – the paper’s co-author and an Adjunct Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute – said in a statement, “The Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS), led by Akshay Suresh, Cornell doctoral candidate in astronomy, is pioneering a search for periodic signals emanating from the core of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The research aims to detect repetitive patterns, a way to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) within our cosmic neighborhood.”
Croft proclaimed, “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.”
Scientists are targeting the heart of the Milky Way because it is believed to be the zone most likely able to sustain life. The area hosts a dense congregation of stars and possibly habitable exoplanets that could be safely located in a Goldilocks zone.
Live Science reported, “What’s more, if intelligent aliens at the core of the Milky Way wanted to reach out to the rest of the galaxy, they could send signals sweeping across a wide array of planets, given their privileged position at the center of the galaxy. Using narrow bandwidths and repeated patterns would be a prime way for aliens to reveal themselves, as such a combination is extremely unlikely to occur naturally.”
The SETI Institute explained, “The team began by testing their algorithm on known pulsars, successfully detecting the expected periodic emissions. Subsequently, they turned their attention to a dataset of scans of the Galactic Center captured by the Breakthrough Listen instrument on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. Unlike pulsars, which emit signals across a broad range of radio frequencies, BLIPSS narrowed its search to repeating signals within a narrower frequency range—covering less than a tenth of the width of an average FM radio station.”
The SETI Institute said that decoding the repetitive patterns “could be the key to unlocking the mysteries of extraterrestrial intelligence in our galaxy.”
“The signals searched in our work would belong to the category of deliberate ‘we are here’ type beacons from alien worlds,” said Akshay Suresh, according to Reuters. “Aliens may possibly use such beacons for galaxy-wide communications, for which the core of the Milky Way is ideally placed. One may imagine aliens using such transmissions at the speed of light to communicate key events, such as preparations for interstellar migration before the explosive death of a massive star.”
The project is part of a $100 million initiative to locate advanced extraterrestrial life.
“In the realm of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, we embark on a journey to detect signals from technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations,” noted astronomer and study co-author Vishal Gajjar of the SETI Institute and University of California, Berkeley. “However, the nature of these signals remains a mystery, leaving us uncertain about their specific characteristics. Hence, it becomes crucial to explore a diverse array of signals that are unlikely to occur naturally in the cosmic environment.”
Suresh highlighted the importance of finding aliens before they find us.
“In my opinion, transmission of ‘we are here’ type beacons comes with the danger of potentially inviting aliens with unknown intentions to the Earth,” Suresh stated. “In my personal opinion, as a relatively young species in the grand cosmic scale, it would be prudent for us to focus on listening and investigating before embarking on deliberate transmissions.”
Gajjar added that one single country should not be sending signals into space on behalf of everyone on Earth since it “raises political and ethical considerations.”
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