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Astronomy, Extraterrestrial Life, Galaxies

Astronomers Looking For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Andromeda Galaxy

Astronomers Looking For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Andromeda Galaxy

A new project known as the Trillion Planet Survey, is launching a search for directed intelligence in M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy). The project is being run by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The aim of the Trillion Planet Survey is to try and detect laser signals directed at us from an extraterrestrial civilization in M31. And according to researchers, this is our best target for searching to date, “Andromeda is home to at least one trillion stars, and thus at least one trillion planets. As a result, in surveying M31, we are surveying one trillion planets, and consequently one trillion possible locations of intelligent life. This is an unprecedented number of targets relative to other past SETI searches. ”




 

Specifically, researchers will be looking for intelligence of “similar or higher class than ours trying to broadcast their presence using an optical beam,” says lead researcher Andrew Stewart, a student at Emory University and a member of Lubin’s group (Lubin is the the lead on the Trillion Planet Survey).

1Astronomers Looking For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. The image also shows Messier Objects 32 and 110, as well as NGC 206 (a bright star cloud in the Andromeda Galaxy) and the star Nu Andromedae. This image was taken using a hydrogen-alpha filter.



 

Below you can read the abstract from the Trillion Planet Project:

In realm of optical SETI, searches for pulsed laser signals have historically been preferred over those for continuous wave beacons. There are many valid reasons for this, namely the near elimination of false positives and simple experimental components. However, due to significant improvements in laser technologies and light-detection systems since the mid-20th century, as well as new data from the recent Kepler mission, continuous wave searches should no longer be ignored. In this paper we propose a search for continuous wave laser beacons from an intelligent civilization in the Andromeda galaxy. Using only a 0.8 meter telescope, a standard photometric system, and an image processing pipeline, we expect to be able to detect any CW laser signal directed at us from an extraterrestrial civilization in M31, as long as the civilization is operating at a wavelength we can “see” and has left the beacon on long enough for us to detect it here on Earth. The search target is M31 due to its high stellar density relative to our own Milky Way galaxy. Andromeda is home to at least one trillion stars, and thus at least one trillion planets. As a result, in surveying M31, we are surveying one trillion planets, and consequently one trillion possible locations of intelligent life. This is an unprecedented number of targets relative to other past SETI searches. We call this the TPS or Trillion Planet Survey.

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Lauren Webber
Lauren studies astronomy and physics at NYU.