Listening For Life

sky space telescope universe

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Back in February 2011, NASA’s Kepler Mission announced it had found 54 planets orbiting stars in so-called “habitable zones” in our galaxy. After the planets were found, NASA alerted the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) of their locations. The institute’s scientists started listening to those planets. SETI chief Jill Tarter has been quoted as saying the Institute is not listening for the kind of sound you hear with your ears. “What we’re doing is using sensors that are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation,” she says.

Electromagnetic radiation is just another name for energy that travels in wave form. Radio signals are also a form of wave energy. So when SETI “listens” to the cosmos, the institute is actually receiving electromagnetic radiation. Jon Jenkins, co-investigator for data analysis for the Kepler Mission, translates that electromagnetic radiation into sound. His actual job is measuring light from specific stars as a way to find nearby planets.

“When I started looking at these light curves,” he says, “I thought, ‘What if we played one of these through a sound card and it said, “Hello, Earthlings?” Unfortunately, Jenkins says, they haven’t heard that yet.

Jenkins made one recording by transforming wave energy — light from a star — into sound. Apparently, what has scientists puzzled is why the intensity of the pulsations change over time. One possibility put forward is that alien civilizations are modulating their own star’s brightness as a way to send signals across galaxies

Astronomers at the Parkes Observatory in Australia observed the brightest fast radio burst known to science on March of this year (2018). The signal was detected first on March 1st, then again on March 9th and 11th, with the March 9th signal breaking the record for strongest known deep space radio signal. All three have a powerful, localized origin. Scientists detected a “rapid fire” burst coming from a separate radio source within the past year. Could this strange pattern of radio bursts be attempts at intergalactic communication?

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Could E.T be trying to say hello?

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