Astronomers using a radio telescope to search for extraterrestrial life reported no signs of alien technology within a patch of 10 million stars.
The Murchison Widefield Array telescope is located at an observatory in outback Western Australia and was used to conduct the broadest search at low frequencies for extraterrestrial life that has been performed to date, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research reported Tuesday.
“The MWA is a unique telescope, with an extraordinarily wide field-of-view that allows us to observe millions of stars simultaneously,” said Chenoa Tremblay, an astronomer with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
“We observed the sky around the constellation of Vela for 17 hours, looking more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before,” she said.
The researchers, led by Tremblay and ICRAR/Curtin University professor Steven Tingay, found no signs of intelligent life in that part of the universe.
Tingay said he wasn’t surprised by the findings and quoted “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” when he said, “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 the Earth’s oceans but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool,” he said.
“Since we can’t really assume how possible alien civilizations might utilize technology, we need to search in many different ways,” Tingay said. “Using radio telescopes, we can explore an eight-dimensional search space.”
The MWA is the forerunner for the Square Kilometre Array, a $2 billion observatory with telescopes in Western Australia and South Africa.
Tingay said the new telescope will “be capable of detecting Earth-like radio signals from relatively nearby planetary systems.”
“With the SKA, we’ll be able to survey billions of star systems, seeking technosignatures in an astronomical ocean of other worlds,” he said.
Technosignatures are “potentially detectable signatures and signals of the presence of distant advanced civilizations,” according to NASA.
The SKA will be built at the Murchison Radio-astromony Observatory with the MWA and will be 50 times more sensitive than its predecessor.
Although the researchers didn’t find any extraterrestrial signals during this search, they are encouraged that large-scale extraterrestrial life surveys can be performed.
“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,” Tingay said. “We have to keep looking.”
The study had not been peer-reviewed as of Wednesday morning, according to Fox News.
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