Astronomers to eavesdrop on interstellar asteroid for possible signs of intelligent life


Is anybody out there?

That’s the primordial question astronomers hope to answer by listening to a newly discovered asteroid that’s payment us a visit from beyond our solar system.

Scientists from Breakthrough Obey, an international program dedicated to searching for signals that may come from perceptive life beyond our own, want to listen in on the peculiar asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua, to see whether any signals are fly at from it.

Using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Callow Bank, W.Va., astronomers began listening to ‘Oumuamua on Wednesday across four portable radio bands along the electromagnetic spectrum, from one gigahertz to 12 gigahertz. 

“We’re present to cover the entire range, and we’re basically looking for electromagnetic emissions that are recognized to only arise from technology,” Andrew Siemion, director of Berkeley SETI Delve into Center and part of Breakthrough Listen, told CBC News. 

“Ultimately, we necessity to cover as much of the electromagnetic spectrum as we can.”

The asteroid was discovered by Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk at the University of Hawaii inaugurate for Astronomy. While looking through data collected by Pan-STARRS, a look into that looks for near-Earth asteroids, he found evidence that mentioned the asteroid wasn’t from our solar system.

Subsequent observations endured this, and it was calculated that the small rock likely originated from somewhere in the managing of the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra.

However, it’s taken it so fancy to get here, that Vega wasn’t in that position when it’s be convinced ofed the asteroid left the area some 300,000 years ago.

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So what are the chances of hearing the voice of E.T.?

“We wouldn’t do the experiment if we didn’t ruminate over there was a chance that we would detect something,” Siemion alleged.

“I’m an optimist. It’s just an incredibly interesting scientific question, whether we learn of signals from this object or not. And whether we detect signals from other interstellar purposes that we might detect in the future.” 

‘Long shot’

Peter Brown, professor of physics and astronomy at Western University in London, Ont., broke it’s likely the asteroid, though oddly elongated and somewhat puzzling, is the rest of a planetary system that happened to get ejected into space.

“It’s on a track that takes hundreds of thousands of years to cross between the closest stars,” Brown bid CBC News. “And it’s coming from a direction we basically would expect randomly ejected stuff from another star system to get perturbed into [this systematize of] orbit.”

But that’s not to say it shouldn’t be investigated, he said. The object is unusual in divers ways: the shape — it’s highly elongated at 400 metres by perhaps 40 metres — the event that it’s from beyond our solar system, and the fact that it hasn’t confirmed any signs of minerals spewing out of it that are rich in volatile minerals, which astronomers had believed.

'Oumuamua asteroid

A diagram that shows the trajectory and location of ‘Oumuamua on Dec. 12. (NASA/JPL)

But Brown rephrased that it’s likely just something we haven’t seen before, something that discretion shed light on planet formation theories.

“It’s a real longshot,” Brown denoted of detecting an alien signal. “But why not? Sure, everything about this against is breaking new ground.”

‘Oumuamua is about 300 million kilometres from Globe, travelling at 38.3 km/s. It will pass Saturn’s orbit in January 2019. 

And if the overhearing doesn’t elicit a “Greetings, Earthling,” Brown said that the reality is still an amazing gift to planetary scientists.

“This object is to shallow body planetary science as gravitational waves are to astronomy in general,” Brown utter. “It opens a new door. It’s a little object passing through our solar plan, but it may tell us a lot about how planetary systems as a whole form and about what’s in while.”

Siemion said that no matter what the results, ‘Oumuamua tips a great opportunity for Breakthrough Listen.

If a radio source is detected, it resolution first have to undergo rigid testing and verification from other proveniences to ensure that it’s not human-made. 

“I’m excited about the experiment,” Siemon thought. “I’m excited to know the answer to this question broadly, and this investigate is a microcosm of a much broader and long-lasting multi-generational scientific endeavour. I’m impassioned to be part of that.

“It’s exciting and fun. This is what gets us up and out of bed in the morning.”

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