A researcher with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has announced that their Breakthrough Listen project has discovered eleven new signals that are being investigated as transmissions that may have originated from intelligent sources. In addition, the data from these transmissions are available online for citizen scientists to investigate.
The Breakthrough Listen project is a $100 million, 10-year endeavor founded two years ago by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, to search for extraterrestrial signals. The project’s implementation phase began last fall, with the installation of specialized equipment at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, the Parks Observatory in Australia, and China’s Tianyan FAST radio telescope, currently the world’s largest array. The eleven candidate signals are part of the preliminary results of an initial survey of 692 nearby stars.
These results have been submitted for publication to numerous astronomical journals, and the data has also been released on their website, for citizen scientists to investigate. Crowdsourced efforts have become a boon for labor-intensive research projects, such as a recent Zooniverse project that uncovered four possible candidates for the ever-elusive Planet Nine.
Andrew Siemion, of the University of Berkeley’s SETI Center, cautions that the signals are likely to have natural origins, but the Breakthrough Listen Project has just started its decade-long search. And, needless to say, if we don’t listen, we won’t find anything.
“We have not yet found any unambiguous trace of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, but we have just begun this search. What we have done in the framework of the Breakthrough Listen allows us to conduct deeper and more systematic searches.”