Akshay Suresh, a graduate student at Cornell University, is leading an extraordinary scientific project: a groundbreaking mission to discover periodic signals from the core of the Milky Way, called the Breakthrough Listen Investigation for Periodic Spectral Signals (BLIPSS). These repeating patterns could be the key to unlocking the mysteries of extraterrestrial intelligence in our galaxy. Suresh and his co-authors detail the results of the project so far in an article in the Astronomical Journal.
BLIPSS is a collaboration between Cornell University, the SETI Institute, and Breakthrough Listen. By turning their attention to the central region of the Milky Way, with its dense congregation of possibly habitable stars and exoplanets, the BLIPSS team increases the chances of capturing compelling evidence of extraterrestrial technology. If an alien civilization wanted to communicate with other civilizations throughout the Milky Way, the galaxy’s core has potential as a strategic location for a beacon. BLIPSS shows the cutting-edge potential of the software as a scientific multiplier for SETI, says Suresh.
Dr. Vishal Gajjar, an astronomer at the SETI Institute, is one of Suresh’s advisers on the project. Until now, SETI radio has mainly devoted its efforts to searching for continuous signals, Gajjar said. Our study sheds light on the remarkable energy efficiency of a pulse train as a means of interstellar communication over great distances. In particular, this study constitutes the first comprehensive attempt to conduct in-depth searches for these signals. The team began by testing their algorithm on known pulsars, successfully detecting the expected periodic emissions. They then turned their attention to a dataset of sweeps of the Galactic Center captured by the Breakthrough Listen instrument on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia.
Unlike pulsars, which emit signals over a wide range of radio frequencies, BLIPSS limited its search to repetitive signals within a narrower frequency range, covering less than a tenth of the width of an average FM radio station.
Dr. Steve Croft, GBT Breakthrough Listen project scientist and SETI Institute Associate Principal Astronomer, highlighted the importance of this approach, as it combines narrow bandwidths with periodic patterns that could signify deliberate technological activities by intelligent civilizations. . Suresh’s technique presents a novel methodology for sifting through this metaphorical haystack, allowing the team to identify tantalizing evidence of advanced alien life forms.