The hunt for the alien mind becomes infrared

The hunt for the alien mind becomes infrared

If extraterrestrial intelligence transmits infrared beacons, the California Observatory’s NIROSETI tool can detect them.

Astronomers have developed a tool that can lift the veil of secrecy, whether we are alone in the universe, using a type of radiation that does not quite easily pass through vast cosmic distances or penetrate a thick nebula.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a very speculative problem - if we do not know what we are looking for, how can we hope to find evidence of the existence of aliens that we are not sure about?

Discovering more and more exoplanets orbiting around their stars, and assuming life on them, we continue to look for evidence of organic chemistry from Mars to the most distant nebulae, making sure that life is possible only on Earth. But the answer to the question of whether there are other intelligent life forms in the galaxy is a more sublime goal.

And what if technologically savvy alien civilizations are smart enough to ask these questions too? Suddenly they are looking into outer space, as we are now, hoping to find signs of life among the stars' brilliance?

To try to answer these intoxicating questions, we will model hypothetical alien races similar to ours, because let's face it - in the Universe filled with endless possibilities, the only life known to us is ourselves. Thus, in an effort to find signs of intelligent life, we are building radio antennas and trying to eavesdrop on radio communications between alien civilizations or to reach for beacon signals. Radio waves are the first artificial transmissions of leaks from our atmosphere, so we used the radio area as an intelligent method that has not been discovered until now. But with the development of technology, new methods are emerging and now astronomers have developed a method for detecting fast pulses of infrared radiation, which can revolutionize the search for alien beacons.

"Infrared light will be an excellent means of interstellar communication," says Shelley Wright, assistant professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.

Wright had to be very patient while working on the SETI NIROSETI near-infrared optical instrument at the University of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Toronto. Although SETI has advanced from an exceptional search for radio programs to detection in the optical wavelength range, the detection of artificial infrared radiation pulses has not been possible for a long time.

“We had to wait,” Wright said in a press release. - "I spent eight years watching how this technology appeared."

Although infrared astronomy has changed our view of space, the technology for detecting nanosecond pulses of infrared radiation has not been available until now. "

"For the first time, earthlings looked at the world in the infrared with a nanosecond time scale," says Dan Wertimer of the University of California, Berkeley. - "The tool can open new astrophysical phenomena, and even answer the question, are we alone in the Universe."

The device is installed at the University of California Observatory near San Jose, which Frank Drake often visited, laying the foundation for SETI with the Ozma project in 1960. Drake showed particular interest in NIROSETI, whose characteristics open up many possibilities for any SETI project. "The signals are so strong that you only need a small telescope to get them," says Drake. “Small telescopes suggest more observational time, and this is good, we must use every chance of success. There is only one drawback: aliens must transmit their signals in our direction.”

But this restriction should not be a problem. There are quite a few planets revolving around stars, and if we send missions, for example, like NASA's Kepler, to star systems with planets, searches will have much more chances for success.

And now astronomers have begun transmitting human beacon to outer space on supposedly inhabited planets - a project known as "messages for extraterrestrial intelligence" (METI), or "Active SETI".

If there is an answer in the form of a highly directional infrared signal, it will allow to detect life forms in hypothetical galaxies.

"If we get a signal from someone, it will be altruism in the universe. I like this idea. If they want to be friends, we will find them," says Drake.

Of course, “they” will not necessarily be friendly, and this factor also worries some scientists.

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