NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A new project is hoping to use heat detection to pick up signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Up until now the search for alien civilizations has focused mainly on the detection of extraterrestrial communications using radio telescopes, but with efforts to date yielding little in the way of results astronomers have been turning instead to a new technique that focuses on looking for heat rather than radio signals.
The G-HAT ( Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies ) method doesn't even require an alien species to be communicating.
"This approach is very different," said SETI's Franck Marchis. "I like it because it doesn't put any constraints on the origin of the civilisation or their willingness to communicate."
The technique involves looking through the catalogue of images taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope to look for galaxies that appear to be emitting more than ten percent of their light in the mid-infrared range.
While several candidates have already been discovered, determining the origins of the infra-red light is as much of a challenge as finding it in the first place.
"Distinguishing that waste heat from ordinary astrophysical dust will be very difficult in many cases, and proving it's of alien origin will be even harder," said team leader Jason Wright.
Source: New Scientist | Comments (14)