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Breakthrough Listen Searched for Signals From Intelligent Civilizations Near the Center of the Milky Way

2 May 2021, 16:19 UTC
Breakthrough Listen Searched for Signals From Intelligent Civilizations Near the Center of the Milky Way
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The Breakthrough Listen project has made several attempts to find evidence of alien civilizations through radio astronomy. Its latest effort focuses attention on the center of our galaxy.

The idea behind Breakthrough Listen is that if alien civilizations are out there, they probably emit radio signals either intentionally or unintentionally. Most of their work has focused on observing stars with potentially habitable planets, the idea being that just as we emit radio signals, so do they. But by looking at the center of our galaxy, they’ve begun to search for more ambitious aliens.

The central region of our galaxy is a great place to point your telescope if you want to listen for signals across thousands of stars. It’s the region of the Milky Way where stars are most densely clustered. The downside is that the center of the Milky Way falls outside the galactic habitable zone.

The Milky Way’s habitable zone. Credit: NASA/Caltech

For a planetary system, the habitable zone is defined by a planet’s distance from its star. Too close and water would boil away, too far and it would all freeze. Obviously, things aren’t quite that simple, and life could arise in unexpected places, but it’s a ...

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