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Australian astronomers who used a powerful telescope to explore the constellations said they found no signs of alien technology in a patch of space known to include 10 million stars.
The researchers used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope to explore “more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before” of the sky around the Vela constellation.
The study, published by Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, explained how the scientists searched for powerful radio emissions at frequencies that could indicate the presence of an intelligent source.
CSIRO astronomer Dr Cenoa Tremblay who carried out the study in the outback of western Australia, explained that such frequencies are known as ‘technosignatures’.
“The MWA is a unique telescope, with an extraordinarily wide field-of-view that allows us to observe millions of stars simultaneously,” said Dr Tremblay.
“We observed the sky around the constellation of Vela for 17 hours, looking more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before.
Professor Steven Tingay, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), also took part in the research.
He said despite the broad nature of the search, he was not surprised by the results.
“As Douglas Adams noted in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, ‘space is big, really big’,” said Dr Tingay.
“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 the Earth’s oceans but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool.
“Since we can’t really assume how possible alien civilisations might utilise technology, we need to search in many different ways. Using radio telescopes, we can explore an eight-dimensional search space.
“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.”
The scientists hope to next use the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope for their studies. The SKA is 50 times more sensitive than the MWA.
“Due to the increased sensitivity, the SKA low-frequency telescope to be built in Western Australia will be capable of detecting Earth-like radio signals from relatively nearby planetary systems,” said Professor Tingay.
“With the SKA, we’ll be able to survey billions of star systems, seeking technosignatures in an astronomical ocean of other worlds.”
The MWA is located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, a remote and radio quiet astronomical facility established and maintained by CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency.
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World news – GB – Scientists find no signs of alien technology in 10 million star system