Results released from experiment to detect alien life on Gliese 581 planets

Gliese 581 (credit: European Southern Observatory)
Gliese 581 (credit: European Southern Observatory)
Gliese 581 (credit: European Southern Observatory)
Gliese 581 (credit: European Southern Observatory)

Some of the planets circling Gliese 581 are thought to be potential homes for extraterrestrial life. But according to new data, if intelligent life does exist in the Gliese 581 system, it isn’t broadcasting radio signals. Western Australian researchers from Curtin University released results from their targeted SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) research, which used the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) instrument to listen for possible extraterrestrial signals coming from Gliese 581. In this case, the VLBI used the combined power of the Parkes radio telescope, the Mopra array, and the Australia Telescope Compact Array to listen for alien signals.

Researchers analyzed twenty hours of data collected in 2007, resulting in the detection of two hundred signals. But unfortunately, all two hundred signals have reportedly been attributed to Earth communication satellites. According to the Register, however, researchers believe their techniques “demonstrate the suitability of VLBI for targeted SETI work – providing a model for how data collected by the South African/Australian Square Kilometer Array could be filtered for ‘lifelike’ signals.”

The team’s findings will be published in Astronomical Journal.

The Square Kilometer Array, also known as the SKA, will be the world’s largest radio telescope. Member countries of The SKA Organisation decided on May 25th that this array of thousands of radio telescopes will be constructed at two sites: one in South Africa, and one in Western Australia. Not only will SKA create the largest radio telescope, but it will also be the most sensitive. This tool will be used to explore the universe, looking into how galaxies were formed, and will scan for signs of extraterrestrial life. But construction on SKA is not scheduled to begin until 2016.

Jason McClellan – OpenMinds

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