What 'big data could be used to help seti researchers increase the search for alien civilisations

Thursday, June 23, 2022
author picture Gabriel Martim
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SETI Ellipsoid and Astronomical Phenomena

Scientists believe that aliens may have observed a supernova explosion close to Earth and used that time to transmit a signal. If alien civilizations were capable of observing this event‚ they would have had the opportunity to observe this astronomical event and respond by sending a signal back to us. In order to make these discoveries‚ astronomers must monitor the vast number of stars in the SETI ellipsoid‚ where about 734 stars pass through each year. As a result‚ it is possible to plot the location of the ellipsoid for a variety of astronomical phenomena.

The Gaia spacecraft is shown against the backdrop of the Milky Way. (ESA Illustration / D. Ducros) Are distant aliens sending signals to us that they are here? How would we find out where they are? A new strategy has been developed by researchers who are pursuing extraterrestrial intelligence (or SETI) as a way to focus their efforts. This strategy uses simple trigonometry on millions of data points to find interstellar beacons. It synchronizes with difficult-to-miss astronomical phenomena like supernovae. James Davenport‚ University of Washington Astronomer and his coworkers laid out the strategy in an article. Research paper submitted to arXiv Pre-Print Server this Month. Davenport will also be speaking on the topic this week at The breakthrough discuss conference in California. The technique seems very simple to me. This technique is for dealing with triangles‚ ellipses and other high-school geometry. Davenport said it half-jokingly to GeekWire. Simple shapes are my favorite and I love things that I can easily calculate. Pre-print papers have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals. They draw on data from European Space Agency. Gaia sky-mapping mission. Davenport stated that the method is suited for the many terabytes worth of astronomical data coming from the Observatory. Vera C. Rubin Observatory It will be available online every night for a few years.

Davenport‚ along with his SETI colleagues‚ start off by making two assumptions. First‚ aliens must want to communicate. Second‚ they need to have the ability to create a way to communicate. Davenport stated that the alien's perspective would suggest that they might have the ability and technology to create a beacon or lighthouse to help them shine. It's expensive to shine all over the place at once. When do you switch on the beacon? A strategy is to sync the beacon's flashes and observations of cosmic flare ups. Davenport said it's like playing "Marco Polo." It's a big deal. Someone yells "Marco‚" and you shout "Polo" or say "We also saw it." Are you seeing us? This is the best recent example of a stellar flare-up. SN 1987A A supernova explosion that took place at 168‚000 light years away was discovered on Earth 35 year ago. Since SN 1987A's light has spread out over a larger area for 168‚000 years‚ it will keep spreading to further reaches in our celestial neighbourhood. We would be able to see the supernova flash if an alien civilization were to sync its beacon flash to ours on a delayed basis due to the finite speed light. It's easy to determine when a star is on the edge of the horizon if you know its distance. “SETI Ellipsoid‚” Where the right timing allows for an alien beacon flash and its light to be detected by earthly Astronomers. It's difficult to track the many millions of stars within the growing ellipsoid. It is becoming easier for astronomers to observe SN 1987A’s SETI Ellipsoid. The first is the shift toward large-scale sky survey such as Gaia which measures the distances to distant stars with unparalleled precision. Another is the rise in Big Data analytics tools such as those being created at the university of washington's dirac institute Davenport‚ along with his collaborators‚ checked the catalog for thousands of stars. They were all located within 326 light years (100 parsecs)‚ of Earth. They reported that the vast majority of nearby star targets are still possible to monitor over time. Each year‚ an average of 734 stars will pass through the SETI Ellipsoid. Researchers say that this number is not too many targets to track each year but it's still within reach of several surveys. SN87A doesn't have to be the only one scanning the sky for synchronized signal‚ but other SETI Ellipsoids are also available for plotting a variety of astronomical phenomena such as galactic novae and gamma-ray blasts. The first step of an investigation into a target is to identify a signal that appears to have been synchronized. We could end up in a situation like this ‘wow signal’ davenport stated that if you have an interesting signal and there is no follow-up or repetition‚ Davenport will tell you. This is a serious concern. It is possible that synchronized flashes could be caused by cosmic coincidences‚ such as mysterious anomalies such as the dimming or brightening of a star system called KIC 8462852/ Tabby's Star. Some astronomers suggested that this phenomenon could be related to an alien megastructure several years back. The leading theory is that the dust cloud caused the problem.. Davenport stated that it's still an interesting object because we don't yet know the origin of the dust. Davenport is currently enlisting students in order to find ways to make Big Data work more effectively for SETI. He said that there are many tricks we could use‚ which we can then write down and put into big computers or databases‚ where they can run. These algorithms may not only focus on SETI Ellipsoids but also the so-called "the" earth transit zone a band in the night sky that could be used by alien astronomers to see Earth passing our home star. Davenport‚ along with his SETI colleagues‚ could analyze the Gaia data and sift through the observations from the zwicky transient facility and NASA’s transiting exoplanet survey satellite or TESS plus data due to be generated from the rubin observatory's lsst survey Davenport admitted that the ellipsoid strategy for searching was not feasible. This is why it's so important to use existing data long-term‚ maybe over many centuries. Davenport stated that we don't know the best way for a civilization to construct a lighthouse. It is not clear what they would think would make sense or be most conspicuous. Instead‚ we should make best of what data we do have. We spend a lot time‚ energy‚ and money on data development for many other purposes. Davenport is not the only author. Gaia searches the SETI Ellipsoid Include Sofia Sheikh and Steve Croft. Siemion and Ann Marie Cody.

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