A reflecting nebula in the constellation Orion NGC 1999 shows a black cloud near its center. SETI’s chief scientist, Seth Shostak, thinks suggests these should be studied in the search for extraterrestrial life.

This is called a "Bok globule," named after late astronomer Bart Bok. It’s a cold cloud of gas, molecules and cosmic dust, so dense it blocks all of the light behind it.

Astronomers believe that new stars may be forming inside Bok globules, through the contraction of the dust and molecular gas under their own gravity. In other words, it’s a star-making machine. Or it may shelter one (or more) of them.

Bok globules are a prime search target for sentient (aware, thinking) ET machines. Bok globules produce multiple-star systems, and at around negative 441 degrees Fahrenheit, they are about 160 degrees F colder than most of interstellar space. Data centers generate a lot of heat, and keeping them cool is a major challenge for modern computing. Intelligent computers might seek out a low-temperature habitat.

The Daily Galaxy quotes Shostak as saying, "I think we could spend at least a few percent of our time looking in the directions that are maybe not the most attractive in terms of biological intelligence but maybe where sentient machines are hanging out."

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