SCIPP physicist David Williams will help lead effort using four 12-meter telescopes to search for nanosecond flashes of light from extraterrestrial civilizations
The Breakthrough Listen initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe will collaborate with the VERITAS Collaboration in the search for technosignatures, signs of technology developed by intelligent life beyond the Earth.
Joining the Breakthrough Listen initiative’s ongoing radio frequency survey and spectroscopic optical laser survey, VERITAS (the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) will search for pulsed optical beacons with its array of four 12-meter telescopes at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.
VERITAS is the world’s most powerful telescope array for studying high-energy astrophysics with gamma rays. It detects gamma rays coming from space by looking for the extremely brief flashes of blue “Cherenkov” light they create when they hit the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.
VERITAS will look for pulsed optical beacons with durations as short as several nanoseconds. Over such timescales, artificial beacons could easily outshine any stars that lie in the same direction on the sky. The use of all four telescopes simultaneously allows for very effective discrimination against false positive detections. The VERITAS Collaboration has previously published observations of the mysteriously dimming Boyajian’s Star in search of such optical pulses. The new program of VERITAS observations will provide complementary searches for optical pulse signatures of many more stars from the primary Breakthrough Listen star list.
“It is impressive how well-suited the VERITAS telescopes are for this project, since they were built only with the purpose of studying very-high-energy gamma rays in mind,” said David Williams, adjunct professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and a member of the VERITAS collaboration.
Breakthrough Listen’s search for optical technosignatures with VERITAS will be led by Williams at UCSC and Jamie Holder of the University of Delaware, in collaboration with the Listen team at UC Berkeley’s SETI Research Center led by Andrew Siemion.
“When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don’t know where it exists or how it communicates,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further.”
“Breakthrough Listen is already the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive search yet undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth,” Siemion said. “Now, with the addition of VERITAS, we’re sensitive to an important new class of signals: fast optical pulses. Optical communication has already been used by NASA to transmit high definition images to Earth from the moon, so there’s reason to believe that an advanced civilization might use a scaled-up version of this technology for interstellar communication.”
If a laser comparable to the most powerful lasers on Earth (delivering about 500 terawatts in a pulse lasting a few nanoseconds) were situated at the distance of Boyajian’s Star and pointed in our direction, VERITAS could detect it. But most of the stars in the Listen target list are 10 to 100 times closer than Boyajian’s Star, meaning that the new search will be sensitive to pulses a factor 100 to 10,000 times fainter still.
“Using the huge mirror area of the four VERITAS telescopes will allow us to search for these extremely faint optical flashes in the night sky, which could correspond to signals from an extraterrestrial civilization,” said Holder.
The Latest on: Search for extraterrestrial intelligence
via Google News
The Latest on: Search for extraterrestrial intelligence
- SETI Institute Scientist Says We’ll Find Aliens by 2036on November 30, 2020 at 11:03 am
Just-launched media venture The Debrief already has a eyebrow-raising scoop: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak is willing to bet you a cup of joe ...
- Anderson: When did we stop looking to the stars?on November 29, 2020 at 3:26 am
The announcement last week that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed is part of a disturbing decadeslong trend.
- The Wow! Signal And The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligenceon November 26, 2020 at 4:00 pm
And so, in 1973, the Big Ear began its near-constant search for ET ... Signal being from an extraterrestrial intelligence is among the lowest probability explanations for the event.
- 60 Years of SETI: The Search for Alien Life in the Cosmic Haystackon November 26, 2020 at 11:38 am
Are we alone in the universe? What six decades of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence can teach us about this profound and eternal question.
- 'A Magically Surreal Symbol of Human Ingenuity': Scientists Reflect on Arecibo’s Doomed Big Dishon November 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm
The big dish at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is on the verge of collapse, leaving officials with no choice but to retire the famous radio telescope. Astronomers around the world are now ...
- Astronomers detect millions of signals from an intelligent civilization: Uson November 20, 2020 at 6:05 am
We know - we're proof of it - that intelligent civilizations (yes, civilizations) are possible. Finding signs of other civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy is not such a simple matter, but we do have ...
- Star Trek Star Joins Group Dedicated to Making First Contact With Alienson November 19, 2020 at 6:35 am
Discovery actor Anson Mount announced his recent partnership with METI, joining the organization on its quest to discover and contact alien ...
- Star Trek Star Anson Mount Joins Real-Life Search for Alien Lifeon November 18, 2020 at 4:02 am
Anson Mount made an impression on Star Trek fans with his portrayal of Captain Christopher Pike, captain of the USS Enterprise, in Star Trek: Discovery's second season. He reprised the role in ...
- Using game-theory to look for extraterrestrial intelligenceon October 30, 2020 at 6:43 am
Kerins suggests that a way to meld the two approaches into a logical systematic search for extraterrestrial intelligence is to use some of the logic inherent in game theory. Kerins starts by ...
- Not Just Radio Messages: NASA Expands the Search for Extraterrestrial Cultureson August 21, 2020 at 11:38 am
Now NASA is expanding the scope of that search: For the first time ... But life doesn’t necessarily mean intelligence, and SETI researchers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and ...
via Bing News