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Astronomers are looking for alien space beacons after supernovae

Astronomers are pondering the possibility of massive stellar explosions serving as signals from intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in deep space.

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The question arises: if advanced beings in the cosmos desire to communicate across vast distances, how might they do so, given the limitations of direct visits and signals that can’t exceed the speed of light?

Scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) are exploring the concept of cosmic Schelling points—specific locations where both parties could concentrate their efforts for communication.

Analogous to a common meeting point, such as the entrance to a mall, astronomers are seeking cosmic events that are so conspicuous that they would naturally attract attention.

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One such candidate is the supernova, an astronomical phenomenon characterized by its enormity and luminosity. The idea is that if intelligent beings wish to capture our attention, a supernova would be a logical focal point.

A recent collaboration between astronomers from the Berkeley SETI Research Center, the University of Washington, and the SETI Institute focused their efforts on exploring the vicinity of the supernova SN 1987A for signs of alien technosignatures or any visible extraterrestrial beacons.

Unfortunately, their search yielded no conclusive results, but the pursuit of such cosmic communication points persists.

Astronomer Jason Wright of the Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center emphasized the significance of the search strategy, stating, “This is a great demonstration of how we can prioritize our search efforts by considering what sorts of synchronization schemes other species might employ to get our attention.”

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In the vast expanse of the cosmos, narrowing down the search space is crucial for the quest to identify extraterrestrial technological species.

What’s more, the paper should be of interest to METI-minded researchers, that is, Messages to Extraterrestrial Intelligences. Should a supernova happen nearby in the coming years, we could use the opportunity to transmit a beacon alerting others to our presence. As to whether we should do that, that’s another story.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.