Akshay Suresh, a graduate student at Cornell University, is leading an unusual scientific activity - a groundbreaking mission called BLIPSS to detect periodic signals emanating from the center of the Milky Way
Akshay Suresh, a graduate student at Cornell University, is leading an unusual scientific activity - a groundbreaking mission called BLIPSS to detect periodic signals emanating from the center of the Milky Way. Such old signals could be the key to cracking the mystery of extraterrestrial intelligence in our galaxy. Suresh and his co-authors detail the results of the project in a paper titled 4–8 GHz Galactic Center Search for Periodic Technosignatures published in the Astronomical Journal.
BLIPSS is a collaboration between Cornell University, the SETI Institute and Breakthrough Listen. By focusing on the central region of the Milky Way, which has a dense population of stars and exoplanets that could possibly support life, the BLIPSS team increases the chances of capturing compelling evidence of extraterrestrial technology. If an alien civilization would like to communicate with other civilizations for the Milky Way, the center of the galaxy has potential as a strategic location for a beacon.
"BLIPSS presents the most advanced potential of software as a scientific multiplier," said Suresh.
Astronomer from the SETI Institute Dr. Vishal Gajar is one of Suresh's advisors in the project. "Until now, SETI's search for radio waves has been looking for continuous signals," he said. "Our research sheds light on the excellent energetic efficiency of pulse convoys as a means of interstellar communication across vast distances. In particular, this study is the first ever comprehensive undertaking to conduct in-depth searches for these signals."
The team started by testing their algorithm on known pulsars, and successfully detected the expected periodic emissions. They then turned to data from scans of the center of the galaxy taken by the Breakthrough Listen project's instrument at the GBT telescope in West Virginia. Unlike pulsars, which emit signals over a wide range of radio frequencies, BLIPSS narrowed its search to old signals in a narrower frequency range - less than a tenth of the width of an average FM radio station.
Dr. Steve Croft, Breakthrough Listen Project Scientist at GBT and Senior Attached Astronomer at the SETI Institute, emphasized the importance of this approach, because it combines narrow frequency ranges with periodic patterns that can indicate deliberate technological activities of extraterrestrial civilizations. Suresh's technique presents an innovative methodology for searching this metaphorical haystack, which will allow the team to identify exciting evidence for the existence of advanced extraterrestrial life forms.
More of the topic in Hayadan:
- Breakthrough Listen released two petabytes of alien search data
- Will artificial intelligence detect signals of extraterrestrial technologies?
- Can there be extraterrestrial life in the neighbors? Looking for planets around Alpha Centauri
- The huge investment of one hundred million dollars in the search for signals from aliens has not yet brought results
- The Israeli astrophysicist's journey to Proxima Centauri