Across 10 Million Stars, Not a Single Whisper of Alien Technology

In a complete lookup of a patch of the Southern sky, not even a trace of alien technological know-how has been detected at small radio frequencies.

Across at the very least 10 million stars that populate the Vela region – the deepest and widest survey for extraterrestrial intelligence nevertheless – the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia observed none of the technosignatures that might be expected inside its selection.


Even so, astronomers Chenoa Tremblay and Steven Tingay from the Curtin College node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Study (ICRAR) say their effects are not disappointing at all.

In its place, the exploration shows how easy it is to perform the lookup for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) practically incidentally, whilst obtaining other astrophysical observations.

SETI is genuinely very difficult. We you should not genuinely know what sort of technological know-how an alien civilisation could build, so we base it on what we know – our individual technological know-how, and theories. In the situation of the MWA, that usually means radio indicators in frequencies similar to FM radio.

In this article on Earth, incredibly small frequency radio can “leak” out by way of the ionosphere – it’s been picked up by our individual room probes, as read in the above audio, recorded by a NASA Polar spacecraft in 1996. Extra recently, these VLF emissions have been observed to be making a large bubble around our planet.

If aliens are also creating such indicators, and if individuals indicators are powerful enough, scientists believe that we might be in a position to detect them. Even so, if we could, it’s not with the MWA, and not in the vicinity of the Vela constellation.


“The MWA is a exceptional telescope, with an extraordinarily vast subject-of-watch that lets us to observe hundreds of thousands of stars at the same time,” Tremblay explained.

“We noticed the sky around the constellation of Vela for 17 hrs, looking a lot more than one hundred moments broader and deeper than at any time just before. With this dataset, we observed no technosignatures – no indication of intelligent existence.”

The constellation of Vela might only feel like a little patch of sky when you happen to be standing down listed here looking up, but it’s a great deal busier than it seems. It has the Vela supernova remnant – that’s what Tremblay has been studying, looking precisely at the chemical composition of the cloud in small frequencies.

And the region examined has at the very least 10 million stars at a assortment of distances, a tiny slice of the Milky Way galaxy, which all round has an approximated variety of stars somewhere among one hundred and 400 billion (or maybe even better, depending on whom you ask).

Consequently, it’s not genuinely a substantial shock that no indicators ended up detected.

“As Douglas Adams mentioned in The Hitchhiker’s Guidebook to the Galaxy, ‘space is huge, genuinely big’,” Tingay explained.


“And even although this was a genuinely huge research, the total of room we looked at was the equal of seeking to come across one thing in Earth’s oceans, but only looking a volume of drinking water equal to a big backyard swimming pool.”

There are other causes we might not detect techno-signatures. There is certainly the issue pointed out earlier – that alien technological know-how might not be something like our Earth technological know-how that it might be one thing we can’t even hypothesise present. But that’s why we have to search with each and every device we have at our disposal.

“Due to the fact we can’t genuinely think how feasible alien civilisations might utilise technological know-how, we want to lookup in several distinctive techniques. Making use of radio telescopes, we can explore an 8-dimensional lookup room,” Tingay explained.

“Whilst there is a lengthy way to go in the lookup for extraterrestrial intelligence, telescopes such as the MWA will continue on to thrust the limits – we have to keep looking.”

The MWA is made up of four,096 of these dipole antennas. (Dragonfly Media)

For all you alien supporters out there, the absence of evidence will not essentially necessarily mean a absence of alien civilisations. It is really also feasible that any electromagnetic radiation an alien civilisation emits could be much too far absent, or much too weak to detect.

Acquire Earth, once again, as our only regarded example. We’ve only been creating deliberate radio waves because, at the earliest, the initially radio transmission in 1895. At a most, our transmissions couldn’t have travelled considerably farther than one hundred light-weight-years absent.


Radio waves mature significantly less powerful in excess of length, following the inverse-sq. regulation. At double the length travelled, the sign is a quarter of its intensity at the commencing issue. By one hundred light-weight-years absent, Earth’s radio waves would be indistinguishable from background noise.

But, with at any time a lot more powerful telescopes – like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) being constructed in Western Australia and South Africa – who understands what we could come across?

“Thanks to the amplified sensitivity, the SKA small-frequency telescope to be constructed in Western Australia will be capable of detecting Earth-like radio indicators from comparatively nearby planetary programs,” Tingay explained.

“With the SKA, we’ll be in a position to survey billions of star programs, searching for technosignatures in an astronomical ocean of other worlds.”

The exploration has been posted in the Publications of the Astronomical Culture of Australia.