The non-profit institute has been listening to the universe since 1984 – so far unsuccessfully. With the rough observation campaign stretch the "E.T.-researchers" extend their search to red dwarf stars.
The researchers of the seti institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) work with modern radio telescopes to pick up possible radio signals. "Red dwarfs – the faint sparkles of the cosmos – have received little attention from seti researchers in the past," institute staffer jon richards explained in a news release. "This is because researchers have made the seemingly plausible assumption that other intelligent species should reside on planets orbiting stars similar to our sun."
Red dwarf stars, on the other hand, were not considered a promising target because their habitable zone is much narrower than that of coarser stars. Astronomers call the habitable zone the area around the star where temperatures allow the existence of flowing water. Flowing water is considered a basic prerequisite for life as we know it. And even if there are planets in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star, they orbit so closely around their star that they usually rotate in a bound manner, i.E. Always turn the same side to their star – just as the moon always shows the same side to the earth. According to astronomers, this made it unbearably hot on the day side and icy cold on the night side – poor conditions for life.
However, recent findings showed that possible oceans and atmospheres on such planets could distribute warmth from the day to the night side better than had been assumed, the institute explained. Moreover, according to recent studies, one in six to one in two red dwarf stars has planets in its habitable zone. In addition, red dwarf stars shine for a particularly long time. They are on average a few billion years older than sun-like stars. "Older solar systems have had more time to produce intelligent species," emphasized seti astronomer seth shostak. "Significantly, three quarters of all stars are red dwarfs."
With its allen radio telescope observatory, the institute is now planning to survey the next 20,000 red dwarf stars. That sounds a lot, but all these stars still belong to the cosmic neighborhood of our solar system: our home galaxy, the milky way, has up to 300 billion stars. According to the institute, the 42 antennas of the allen observatory can each observe three stars simultaneously. Astronomers estimate that the survey of the red dwarfs will take two years.
In a recently published study, researchers gave a different tip for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence: astronomers should first concentrate on a narrow strip of the sky. For this analysis, the experts put themselves in the role of extraterrestrial astronomers. In a small area of the milky way, such extraterrestrial star researchers had a particularly good chance of discovering our earth, argue rene heller (max planck institute for solar system research in gottingen) and ralph pudlitz (mcmaster university in canada) in the journal "astrobiology". In this region of the sky, this also increases the chance that extraterrestrials will try to contact us specifically with radio signals.