NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array is helping to collect data in the hopes of finding extraterrestrial civilizations. The nonprofit research organization the SETI Institute is currently conducting research analyzing emissions that only artificial transmitters make, which would point to the existence of what they call a “technically accomplished society.”
According to a SETI Institute press release, their scientists will tap into a signal of a project that the VLA is already conducting called the Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS), which is researching radio signals from 80% of the sky. Researchers say data they’ll be getting from this signal will be copied into a special receiver with a very narrow channel. SETI is hypothesizing any signals from a deliberately constructed transmitter will be found in that narrow band and that the signals would show it is not produced by something natural but by an alien transmitter.
“The VLA is the go-to instrument for radio astronomers, but this is the first time we are using it in a wide-ranging and continuous search for technosignatures,” said Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute.
The researchers will use a processing system called “COSMIC” – the Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster, which is a collaboration between SETI, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the Breakthrough Listen Initiative. “COSMIC operates commensally, which means it works in the background using a copy of the data astronomers are taking for other scientific purposes,” said Paul Demorest, Scientist, and Group Lead for VLA/VLBA Science Support at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “This is an ideal and very efficient way to get large amounts of telescope time to search for rare signals.”
Officials say a wide variety of transmissions, such as pulsed and transient signals, can be recognized by this new experiment. Around 10 million star systems will be examined in this project.