Aug 12, 2019 by News Staff / Source
Astronomers from the Breakthrough Listen, a scientific program in search for signs of intelligent life in the Universe, and the VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) Collaboration will search for pulsed optical beacons with an array of four 12-m optical reflectors at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.
VERITAS is located at the basecamp of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona. Image credit: K. Gibbs & N. Galente, Whipple Observatory.
VERITAS is the world’s most powerful telescope array for studying high energy astrophysics with gamma rays.
It detects gamma rays coming from space by looking for the extremely brief flashes of blue Cherenkov light they create when they hit the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The VERITAS telescopes will look for pulsed optical beacons with durations as short as several nanoseconds.
Over such timescales, artificial beacons could easily outshine any stars that lie in the same direction on the sky.
The use of all four telescopes simultaneously allows for very effective discrimination against false positive detections.
“When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don’t know where it exists or how it communicates,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives.
“So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further.”
The researchers will search for optical pulse signatures of stars from the Breakthrough Listen star list.
“Breakthrough Listen is already the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive search yet undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth,” said Dr. Andrew Siemion, an astrophysicist and Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center.
“Now, with the addition of VERITAS, we’re sensitive to an important new class of signals: fast optical pulses.”
“Optical communication has already been used by NASA to transmit high definition images to Earth from the Moon, so there’s reason to believe that an advanced civilization might use a scaled-up version of this technology for interstellar communication.”
“Using the huge mirror area of the four VERITAS telescopes will allow us to search for these extremely faint optical flashes in the night sky, which could correspond to signals from an extraterrestrial civilization,” said Professor Jamie Holder, from the Department of Physics and the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware.
Thanks to: http://www.sci-news.com