Today’s Top Space Headline –Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Team Still Listening for Radio Signals from Our Solar Systems 1st Interstellar Visitor

 
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“‘Oumuamua’s presence within our solar system affords Breakthrough Listen an opportunity to reach unprecedented sensitivities to possible artificial transmitters and demonstrate our ability to track nearby, fast-moving objects,” said Listen’s Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center. “Whether this object turns out to be artificial or natural, it’s a great target for Listen.”

 


Breakthrough Listen, founded by Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, is a scientific program in search for evidence of technological life in the Universe. It aims to survey one million nearby stars, the entire galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies at a wide range of radio and optical bands.

 

This week Breakthrough has been intensely focused on probing "Oumuamua" our first interstellar visitor for radio signals that might show signs of intelligent origins.

The researchers say that while a natural origin is likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that ‘Oumuamua' could be an artifact.

Listen’s observation campaign began on Wednesday, December 13 at 3:00 pm ET. Using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (above), it will continue to observe ‘Oumuamua across four radio bands, from 1 to 12 GHz. Its first phase of observations will last a total of 10 hours, divided into four “epochs” based on the object’s period of rotation.

 

 

‘Oumuamua is now about 2 astronomical units (AU) away, or twice the distance between Earth and the Sun. This is closer by a factor of 50-70 than the most distant human artifact, the Voyager I spacecraft. At this distance, it would take under a minute for the Green Bank instrument to detect an omnidirectional transmitter with the power of a cellphone.

 

 

Even if no signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial technology is heard, Listen observations will cover portions of the radio spectrum in which the object has not yet been observed, and could provide important information about the possibility of water/ice, or the chemistry of a coma (gaseous envelope), neither of which have yet been identified.

"No such signals have been detected" by its network of telescopes, the project said Thursday, adding: "the analysis is not yet complete." No evidence of artificial signals emanating from the object so far detected by the Green Bank Telescope, but monitoring and analysis continue.

“This is a fishing expedition,” said Avi Loeb, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and an adviser to the Breakthrough Listen project. “We are most likely not to find anything, but it is worth checking steadily our fishing hooks. We will keep searching for artificial signals from ‘Oumuamua or any other interstellar object that will be discovered in the future.”

Andrew Siemion, director of Berkeley Seti Research Center, told the Guardian that a review of all four bands observed Wednesday night had come up blank. “We don’t see anything continuously emitting from ‘Oumuamua,” he said. “We’re now digging into some of the intermittent candidates, and trying some new machine learning-based techniques we have been working on. We expect our next observation window to be scheduled for Friday or Saturday, when we should get a view of additional phases of ‘Oumuamua as it rotates.”

The interstellar asteroid was first spotted by researchers on the Pan-Starrs telescope project in Hawaii as it swept past Earth at 85 times the distance to the moon. As ‘Oumuamua sped towards the sun, it gathered speed, reaching 196,000mph. The body is moving so fast it will eventually leave the solar system completely.

The Daily Galaxy via The Guardian and  Breakthrough Initiatives 

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