SCIENTISTS are ramping up their efforts in the search for signs of alien life.
Experts at the SETI Institute, an organisation dedicated to tracking extraterrestrial intelligence, are developing state-of-the-art techniques to detect signatures from space that indicate the possibility of extraterrestrial existence.
These so-called "technosignatures" can range from the chemical composition of a planet's atmosphere, to laser emissions, to structures orbiting other stars, among others, they said.
Dr Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) telescope based in Virginia, US, said: "Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science."
SETI scientists plan to develop a system that will "piggyback" on the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope based in Mexico and provide data to their technosignature search system.
Dr Beasley added: "As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we're already collecting."
Life forms, whether intelligent or not, can produce detectable indicators such as large amounts of oxygen, smaller amounts of methane, and a variety of other chemicals, the experts said.
So in addition, scientists are also developing computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments that can help support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the solar system.
Victoria Meadows, principal investigator for Nasa's Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, which studies to detect exoplanetary habitability, said: "Upcoming telescopes in space and on the ground will have the capability to observe the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby cool stars, so it's important to understand how best to recognise signs of habitability and life on these planets.
"These computer models will help us determine whether an observed planet is more or less likely to support life."
Meanwhile, SETI's Breakthrough Listen Initiative, which launched in 2015 to "listen" for signals of alien life, has released nearly two petabytes of data from the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the plane of the Milky Way galaxy and the region around its central black hole.
The organisation is now inviting the public to search the data, gathered from various telescopes around the world, and look for signals from intelligent civilisations.
Yuri Milner, an entrepreneur and founder of the Breakthrough initiative, said: "For the whole of human history, we had a limited amount of data to search for life beyond Earth.
"So, all we could do was speculate.
"Now, as we are getting a lot of data, we can do real science and, with making this data available to general public, so can anyone who wants to know the answer to this deep question."
The initiatives and strategies in expanding the search for extraterrestrial life were presented at the the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle.
What are FRBs, and why are they important?
Here's what you need to know…
- FRBs, or fast radio bursts, are a mysterious space phenomenon
- They're very quick radio bursts that last just a few milliseconds (or thousandths of seconds)
- They're detected as huge spikes of energy that change in strength over time
- The first one was discovered back in 2007, found by looking back through space survey data
- Lots of FRBs have been found since then
- There's also one FRB source that is sending out repeated bursts – and no one is quite sure why
- In fact, scientists have struggled to explain exactly what causes any FRB in the first place
- Theories include rapidly rotating neutron stars, black holes, and even alien life
- FRBs are important simply because they're so baffling to experts
- Unlocking the secrets of what causes them will give us a much better understanding of what goes on beyond our galaxy
- And if it does turn out that some other life-form is causing these FRBs, it would be a world-changing discovery
The news comes a month after astronomers tracked mysterious radio signals from outer space to a nearby galaxy.
Using eight of Earth's most powerful telescopes, they found the signals originated in a spiral galaxy – like the Milky Way – located 500million light-years from Earth.
Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are intense pulses of radio waves that last no longer than the blink of an eye and come from far beyond our Milky Way galaxy.
Their origins are unknown. Some think the energetic waves are the result of massive cosmic explosions, while others reckon they're signals sent by an alien race.
More than 60 FRBs have been discovered over the past decade, but only a handful have repeated. These recurring bursts give scientists rare chances to study the origins of FRBs.
In other news, a researcher claimed last month that the discovery of alien life was not only "inevitable" but also "imminent".
One Nasa scientist has admitted it's entirely possible that aliens have already visited Earth – and we simply never noticed.
And, here are the mysteries we need to solve in order to prove the existence of extraterrestrials.
Do you believe in extraterrestrials? Let us know in the comments!
Source: Read Full Article