Whether we are alone or not in the Universe is still a hotly contested topic and a question which has plagued humanity for centuries. However, scientists are a step closer to the answer after a survey of more than 10 million stars across the Milky Way has yielded zero results.
Astronomers using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia to search for signs of ‘technosignatures’ across the cosmos.
Technosignatures are signs of technology coming from a planet which could include satellites or radio waves emitting from the celestial body.
Specifically, the researchers were looking for very low frequency radio waves which, on Earth, can leak out of the planet’s atmosphere and can be picked up by scientists strongest telescopes.
Chenoa Tremblay, a researcher with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said: “The MWA is a unique telescope, with an extraordinarily wide field-of-view that allows us to observe millions of stars simultaneously.
“We observed the sky around the constellation of Vela for 17 hours, looking more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before.
Firstly, they were only looking for technosignatures, which would signal a species on a planet is intelligent and advanced – the most likely form of life elsewhere in the cosmos could be microbial and primitive.
Steven Tingay from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) explained: “As Douglas Adams noted in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ‘space is big, really big’.
“And even though this was a really big study, the amount of space we looked at was the equivalent of trying to find something in Earth’s oceans, but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool.
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“Since we can’t really assume how possible alien civilisations might utilise technology, we need to search in many different ways.
“Although there is a long way to go in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, telescopes such as the MWA will continue to push the limits – we have to keep looking.”
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World news – GB – Alien hunters disappointed after huge search yields ‘no sign of intelligent life’