Science

Catalog shows more than 700 objects that may have extraterrestrial life

In July 2015, Breakthrough Initiatives announced the launch of a ten-year initiative to carry out the largest Extraterrestrial Intelligence Survey (SETI) to date. Called Breakthrough Listen, action combines cutting-edge software and data from the world’s leading observatories to look for signs of alien technology (also known as techno-signatures).


In recent years, Breakthrough Listen (BL) has made two major data releases and announced a lucrative collaboration with NASA’s TESS (Transitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission. More recently, the initiative announced the launch of its catalog “Exotica” – a varied list of objects that may be of interest to astronomers looking for signs of techno-signatures and extraterrestrial intelligence.

The catalog was described in an article recently submitted for publication in the The Astrophysical Journal. The team responsible for the catalog was led by Dr. Brian C. Lacki, an astronomer at the Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC), and included members of the University of California at Berkeley, the SETI Institute and several other units.

The launch of this catalog is especially significant because it includes cosmic objects and environments where life does not seem to thrive. At least not life as we know it, and that is the focus of all research so far.

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Catalog explores all possibilities for finding extraterrestrial life. Image: Reproduction

Historically, part of the problem has been with our instruments. That’s because the universe is immense, possibly even infinite. Our best estimates say that the observable part is approximately 96 billion light years in diameter. At the same time, what we see is subject to the theory of general relativity, where the speed of light is not only constant, but a cosmic absolute. Therefore, the space must be monitored very carefully to separate the background noise from any activity or signs of life.

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Another issue is our reference. Despite years of research, Earth is still the only planet we know where life exists, and humanity is our only example of technologically advanced civilization. But what if extraterrestrial lives are not like ours and live in environments that, for us, are very extreme?

Extreme environments could include those with extreme temperatures, such as planets near stars, or extremely cold regions outside a solar system. It could also include the extreme gravity of nutron stars or the high radiation from star clusters and galactic nuclei.

Exotica catalog

This is what is special about the catalog “Exotica”: it explores a collection of more than 700 different objects with “one of each” in the observed universe. This ranges from comets to galaxies, from mundane objects to the rarest and most violent celestial phenomenon. The objective is to present the concept of research scope.

In doing so, the BL team hopes to increase the likelihood of finding signs of life, allowing for beneficial astrophysical research and inspiring thoughts about our current characterization systems.

BL hopes that, with this catalog, astronomers will be able to answer some difficult questions related to SETI research, such as Fermi’s classic question (“Where is everyone?”), Or perhaps provide an explanation as to why we don’t hear or see someone l outside.

Thanks to the large number of exoplanets recently discovered and the growing sophistication of space observatories and telescopes, some believe it is only a matter of time before something is found.

Via: Science Alert

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