Alien-hunting telescope scans 10 million stars for signs of life – and finds nothing


An alien-hunting telescope has scanned 10 million stars for signs of life – and found nothing.

Astronomers used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope to search for signs of extraterrestrial life around the Vela constellation.

Dr Chenoa Tremblay, a CSIRO astronomer who worked on the project, 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.

“With this dataset, we found no technosignatures – no sign of intelligent life.”

While the news may be disappointing to some, the researchers are hopeful that there’s still alien life to be found yet.

Professor Steven Tingay, who worked on the project, said: “As Douglas Adams noted in The Hitchhikers 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 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 MWA is the precursor for an even more sensitive instrument, called the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Professor Tingay added: “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.

“With the SKA, we’ll be able to survey billions of star systems, seeking technosignatures in an astronomical ocean of other worlds.”


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