Friday, January 12, 2018

Breakthrough Listening

Mysterious radio signals are from outer space, say scientists.  These short bursts are bright flashes of radio waves and last for only a few milliseconds.  They've been happening since 2007, and there's one that has a repeating nature - it is FRB 121102. The FRB is an acronym for fast radio bursts.  They are coming from a distant dwarf galaxy.   The Breakthrough Listen initiative began observing FRB121102 in August 2017, and have come to the conclusion: 

"As far as the FRB121102 goes, I don't think there is any slight possibility that [the pulses] are from an extraterrestrial intelligence," Vishal Gajjar, a scientist with Breakthrough Listen, said yesterday (Jan. 10) during a news conference at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C."

Another investigation is 'Oumuamua - our first interstellar visitor.  It is an asteroid with a weird, elongated shape. It may be 400 meters long.  It was first detected in mid-October.  "A search for signals that may be of artificial origin has begun, but despite the impressive computational power of the Breakthrough Listen computing cluster at Green Bank, the large data volumes mean that this will take some time to complete," Breakthrough Listen representatives said in the same statement.

Who is Breakthrough Listen?  The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI)  got a $100 million boost in July 2015 when investor Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking announced the initiative called Breakthrough Listen.

There is a lot of news and information on the website. It shows Astronomer Frank Drake's equation to estimate the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations currently living in the galaxy.

N: The total number of communicating technological civilizations in the galaxy equals
R: Formation rate of life-friendly stars, times
fp: Fraction of those stars with planets, times
ne: Average number of life-friendly planets per solar system, times
fl: Fraction of those planets where life evolves, times
fi: Fraction of those planets where intelligence evolves, times
fc: Fraction of those planets where interstellar-communication-worthy civilizations evolve, times
Lc: Length of time those civilizations remain detectable from Earth

The current estimate of the number of communicating technological civilizations in this galaxy is between 2 civilizations and 280 million civilizations.

You can check out more at

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