We could soon find out whether or not there is intelligent alien life in our galaxy.
In recent decades, the idea that life exists elsewhere in our galaxy has aroused the interests of astronomers around the globe.
The Milky Way has a diameter between 100,000 and 180,000 light-years and experts estimate that it contains up to 400 Million stars. According to calculation, astronomers further estimate that our galaxy alone contains some 100 billion planets.
(Check out this 9-gigapixel map of the Milky Way Galaxy. The jaw-dropping image contains around 84 million stars and its unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The original image has 24.6 gigabytes).
If we take a look at a larger picture, we’ll find that there are around 500 billion galaxies in the known universe, which means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (5×1022) habitable planets.
Now, the Breakthrough Listen Project has launched a massive survey to search for signs of intelligent alien life in the universe.
Astronomers plan to use the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales in order to comb through millions of stars in our galaxy, looking for signs, more precisely signals, of intelligent alien civilizations.
According to reports, a recent upgrade on the telescope will allow astronomers to record unprecedented data over huge areas of the sky.
The Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales was recently equipped with 13 brand new beams, which means the Parkes telescope has the ability to cover ALL of the galactic plane visible from New South Wales in Australia.
It is one of the most massive searches for intelligent life ever done. Thanks to the upgrade of the Parkes Telescope, the Breakthrough Listen project will be able to handle 130 gigabits of data per second. Furthermore, each of the 13 beams will scan more than 100 million radio channels.
As noted by astrobiology.com, the new survey commits the Parkes telescope to 1500 hours of observations in 2018, resulting in raw data volumes totaling almost 100 petabytes.
Danny Price, Parkes Project Scientist with the Breakthrough Listen project at UC Berkeley, explained that “With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unprecedented detail.”
“By trawling through these huge datasets for signatures of technological civilizations, we hope to uncover evidence that our planet, among the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, is not the only where intelligent life has arisen,” added Price.
However, the Breakthrough listen project will also have the ability to peak into the Milky Way’s Galactic center, one of the densest areas in our galaxy, and home to a number of massive black holes.
The raw details of the search:
– Total observing time: 1500 hours
– Galactic Plane survey: galactic longitude -174 degrees to +60 degrees, and galactic latitudes of 6.5 degrees above and below the plane (total area 3000 square degrees, or the equivalent of 15,000 full moons)
– Galactic Bulge: +/- 12 degrees in Galactic latitude and longitude
– Other targets including nearby dwarf galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds
– Frequencies covered: 1.23 – 1.53 GHz
– Sensitivity (5-minute integration, 3 Hz bandwidth): 420 mJy (8 sigmas)
– Sensitivity to a transmitter at the distance of the Galactic Center: 4 x 1014 W equivalent isotropic radiated power (8 sigmas) – 20 times the power of the Arecibo radar
So, what do you think? Will the new project finally find traces of advanced alien civilizations in the Milky Way?