A new method for finding possible extraterrestrial life through radio signals from space was announced by researchers at University of California, Berkeley in a scientific journal Tuesday.
This method is based on a new technique that verifies that the radio signal they are tracking has actually passed through space, making it easier to filter out false positives caused by terrestrial radio interference.
Radio signals from broadcast technology create a narrowband radio signal, which is different from the broad range of radio signals created by cosmic sources, like stars or supernovas.
However, terrestrial radios, cellphones, microwaves and other technologies often interfere with the search for alien life by producing false alarms.
The new technique, developed by scientists at UC Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen project, analyzes radio signals for the unique signatures created by travelling through space. These signatures are caused by the effects of interstellar gas and dust on the radio waves.
The new detection method was described in an article that appeared in The Astrophysical Journal written by UC Berkeley graduate student Bryan Brzycki, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of astronomy Imke de Pater and Andrew Siemion, the director of UC Berkeley’s program to search for extraterrestrial life.
According to a UC Berkeley press release, this technique will be useful for signals that have originated more than 10,000 light years from Earth, researchers say.
The new technique will be employed in future searches for alien life at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia—the largest steerable radio telescope in the world—and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa.