Search for alien signals expands to 20,000 star systems

March 30, 2016
This artist's conception released February 6, 2013 courtesy of NASA shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the h
This artist's conception released February 6, 2013 courtesy of NASA shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star

The search for radio signals from alien worlds is expanding to 20,000 star systems that were previously considered poor targets for intelligent extraterrestrial life, US researchers said Wednesday.

New scientific data has led the SETI Institute to believe systems orbiting —dim, long-lived stars that are on average billions of years older than our sun—are worth investigating.

"This may be one instance in which older is better," said astronomer Seth Shostak of California-based SETI, a private, non-profit organization which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

"Older solar systems have had more time to produce intelligent species."

The two-year project involves picking from a list of about 70,000 red dwarfs and scanning 20,000 of the nearest ones, along with the cosmic bodies that circle them.

To do this, scientists will use the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array in northern California, a group of 42 antennas that can observe three stars simultaneously.

"We'll scrutinize targeted systems over several frequency bands between 1 and 10 GHz," said SETI scientist Gerry Harp.

"Roughly half of those bands will be at so-called 'magic frequencies'—places on the radio dial that are directly related to basic mathematical constants," he added.

"It's reasonable to speculate that extraterrestrials trying to attract attention might generate signals at such special frequencies."

For a long time, scientists ruled out searching around red dwarfs because around the stars are small.

Any planets orbiting them would be so close that one side would be constantly facing the star, making one side of the planet very hot and the other quite cold and dark.

But more recently, scientists have learned that heat could be transported from the light side of the planet to the darker side, and that much of the surface could be amenable to life.

"In addition, exoplanet data have suggested that somewhere between one sixth and one half of have planets in their habitable zones, a percentage comparable to, and possibly greater than, for Sun-like stars," said the statement.

Experts have been hunting for alien intelligence for six decades, but have not found any evidence yet.

Explore further: How astronomers could find the 'real' planet Krypton

More information: … -star-systems-begins

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2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2016
We are not sending them signals in the "magic" frequencies, so why we expect aliens to do such a thing?
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2016
Many gas giant type planets have been found with orbits close to their host star - any moons orbiting a gas giant near a red dwarf star might be habitable and not tidally locked to the star.

Looking for radio waves might be the equivalent to looking for campfires; if faster than light communication is possible you would assume it would be used by any galactic civilization. But it's also looking more and more like technology is fatal and they all quickly die off.
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2016
Earth may be quarantined by the rest of the universe so ideologies like Islam and progressive/communism don't infect galactic civilization. Jamming may be in effect in both directions.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2016

A high-tech E.T. living on a planet orbiting a Star that is so much older than our Sun would have left their planet long ago to travel the Cosmos when they realized that to remain on their home planet would be suicide. Looking for answers, both scientific and religious, would be the greatest motivation to leave. They might even be here with us, slowly taking over because they might prefer a nice warm planet and consider humans a nuisance and pathetic.

not rated yet Mar 31, 2016

they might prefer a nice warm planet and consider humans a nuisance and pathetic.

Or not? As a human, i find this offensive.
I tend to not exclude the possibility of an old, very old Universe who gave birth to.....nothing, except us. Let's not forget the possibility that we may be the very first to appear, and it took THAT MUCH TIME to give birth to a civilization.
Why that much time? How would i know....who would?
4 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2016
Is it just me, or does searching for magic frequencies in an arbitrary base-10 number system seem a bit silly? Are these frequencies sought in other number systems, as well?
5 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2016
The basic mathematical constants are independent of the number system used.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2016
Dr P Wards books seem to show life is difficult to start, hard to continue, ending abruptly. One believes that our dna holds all the ancient forms. Were we a brown dwarf? Are we just a pinball game system? Did Mars produce life? Where is it? Is there a bacterial distributed logic supercomputer in the clouds producing crop circles via nuclear transmutation with plasmoids--ball lightening?
Were there 12 survivors of our 11.000 y ago catastrophe that traveled the world restarting commerce?
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2016
From what I know about red dwarf stars it just seems they are horrible places to look for intelligent carbon based life to expect to start, then evolve over billions of stable years. Of course there are so many of them and they do last so long they are tempting just due to the numbers. In the near future when we can truly understand how life starts and we can use super computers to truly simulate all of these possible variants, we can better calculate (guess) what/where/why life could be.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Apr 01, 2016
@stezlaf, "basic mathematical constants" will yield the same frequencies in any base.

You should study up more on the representations of pi and e in non-decimal systems.

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