Search for alien signals among a million stars

Search for alien signals among a million stars

A look at the MeerKAT radio telescopic array in South Africa at the time of its construction. A network of 64 plates began to operate in July 2018

The hunt for intelligent alien life takes serious momentum. The Breakthrough Listen project (costing $ 100 million) plans to use the powerful MeerKAT radio telescope in the South African region to explore 1 million stars and look for signals from foreign civilizations.

This partnership greatly expands the reach of space listening. The project also uses the Green Bank telescope (West Virginia) and the Parks Observatory (Australia). Network MeerKAT opened in July 2018. These are 64 radio plates, each of which reaches a width of 13.5 m. The signals collected by each plate are combined, which greatly increases the sensitivity and expansion of the data, as well as the observed field of vision.

MeerKAT created for various studies in the field of astrophysics and in order to help lay the foundation for SKA (the world's largest radio interferometer) - an ambitious project that plans to combine telescopes throughout South Africa and Australia. MeerKAT will not have to suspend its own scientific work to search for alien signals. The Breakthrough Listen team installed a small supercomputer that allows you to search in the background almost continuously. With the help of the new device, it will be possible to form a multitude of rays, receiving information with high resolution for several objects simultaneously. This will complement and expand the capabilities of other telescopes, allowing you to quickly explore the space region. Expect a large data stream to process. MeerKAT's listening system has a data rate of 4 terabits per second (40,000 times more than a regular home Internet connection).

The use of a large array of sensitive radio telescopes, such as MeerKAT, offers many advantages over large single-user surveys. The Breakthrough Listen project with MeerKAT will be a powerful new tool for SETI (Alien Mind Search).

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