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Trillion Planet Survey Targets M-31

Can rapidly advancing laser technology and optics augment the way we do SETI? At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Phil Lubin believes they can, and he’s behind a project called the Trillion Planet Survey to put the idea into practice for the benefit of students. As an incentive for looking into a career in physics, an entire galaxy may be just the ticket.

For the target is the nearest galaxy to our own. The Trillion Planet Survey will use a suite of meter-class telescopes to search for continuous wave (CW) laser beacons from M31, the Andromeda galaxy. But TPS is more than a student exercise. The work builds on Lubin’s 2016 paper called “The Search for Directed Intelligence,” which makes the case that laser technology foreseen today could be seen across the universe. And that issue deserves further comment.

Centauri Dreams readers are familiar with Lubin’s work with DE-STAR, (Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation), a scalable technology that involves phased arrays of lasers. DE-STAR installations could be used for purposes ranging from asteroid deflection (DE-STAR 2-3) to propelling an interstellar spacecraft to a substantial fraction of the speed of light (DE-STAR 3-4). The work led to NIAC funding (NASA Starlight) in 2015 examining beamed energy systems for propulsion in the context of miniature probes using wafer-scale photonics and is also the basis for Breakthough Starshot.

Image: UC-Santa Barbara physicist Philip Lubin. Credit: Paul Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent.

A bit more background here: Lubin’s Phase I study “A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight “ is available online. It was followed by Phase II work titled “Directed Energy Propulsion for Interstellar Exploration (DEEP-IN).” Lubin’s discussions with Pete Worden on these ideas led to talks with Yuri Milner in late 2015. The Breakthrough Starshot program draws on the DE-STAR work, particularly in its reliance on miniaturized payloads and, of course, a laser array for beamed propulsion, the latter an idea that had largely been associated with large sails rather than chip-sized payloads. Mason Peck and team’s work on ‘sprites’ is also a huge factor.

But let’s get back to the Trillion Planet Survey — if I start talking about the history of beamed propulsion concepts, I could spend days, and anyway, Jim Benford has already undertaken the task in these pages in his A Photon Beam Propulsion Timeline. What’s occupies us this morning is the range of ideas that play around the edges of beamed propulsion, one of them being the beam itself, and how it might be detected at substantial distances. Lubin’s DE-STAR 4, capable of hitting an asteroid with 1.4 megatons of energy per day, would stand out in many a sky.

In fact, according to Lubin’s calculations, such a system — if directed at another star — would be seen in systems as distant as 1000 light years as, briefly, the brightest star in the sky. Suddenly we’re talking SETI, because if we can build such systems in the foreseeable future, so can the kind of advanced civilizations we may one day discover among the stars. Indeed, directed energy systems might announce themselves with remarkable intensity.

Image: M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, the target of the largely student led Trillion Planet Survey. Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler.

Lubin makes this point in his 2016 paper, in which he states “… even modest directed energy systems can be ‘seen’ as the brightest objects in the universe within a narrow laser linewidth.” Amplifying on this from the paper, he shows that stellar light in a narrow bandwidth would be very small in comparison to the beamed energy source:

In case 1) we treat the Sun as a prototype for a distant star, one that is unresolved in our telescope (due to seeing or diffraction limits) but one where the stellar light ends up in ~ one pixel of our detector. Clearly the laser is vastly brighter in this sense. Indeed for the narrower linewidth the laser is much brighter than an entire galaxy in this sense. For very narrow linewidth lasers (~ 1 Hz) the laser can be nearly as bright as the sum of all stars in the universe within the linewidth. Even modest directed energy systems can stand out as the brightest objects in the universe within the laser linewidth.

And again (and note here that the reference to ‘class 4’ is not to an extended Kardashev scale, but rather to a civilization transmitting at DE-STAR 4 levels, as defined in the paper):

As can be seen at the distance of the typical Kepler planets (~ 1 kly distant) a class 4 civilization… appears as the equivalent of a mag~0 star (ie the brightest star in the Earth’s nighttime sky), at 10 kly it would appear as about mag ~ 5, while the same civilization at the distance of the nearest large galaxy (Andromeda) would appear as the equivalent of a m~17 star. The former is easily seen with the naked eye (assuming the wavelength is in our detection band) while the latter is easily seen in a modest consumer level telescope.

Out of this emerges the idea that a powerful civilization could be detected with modest ground-based telescopes if it happened to be transmitting in our direction when we were observing. Hence the Trillion Planet Survey, which looks at using small telescopes such as those in the Las Cumbres Observatory’s robotic global network to make such a detection.

With M31 as the target, the students in the Trillion Planet Survey are conducting a survey of the galaxy as TPS gets its software pipeline into gear. Developed by Emory University student Andrew Stewart, the pipeline processes images under a set of assumptions. Says Stewart:

“First and foremost, we are assuming there is a civilization out there of similar or higher class than ours trying to broadcast their presence using an optical beam, perhaps of the ‘directed energy’ arrayed-type currently being developed here on Earth. Second, we assume the transmission wavelength of this beam to be one that we can detect. Lastly, we assume that this beacon has been left on long enough for the light to be detected by us. If these requirements are met and the extraterrestrial intelligence’s beam power and diameter are consistent with an Earth-type civilization class, our system will detect this signal.”

Screening transient signals from its M31 images, the team will then submit them to further processing in the software pipeline to eliminate false positives. The TPS website offers links to background information, including Lubin’s 2016 paper, but as of yet has little about the actual image processing, so I’ll simply quote from a UCSB news release on the matter:

“We’re in the process of surveying (Andromeda) right now and getting what’s called ‘the pipeline’ up and running,” said researcher Alex Polanski, a UC Santa Barbara undergraduate in Lubin’s group. A set of photos taken by the telescopes, each of which takes a 1/30th slice of Andromeda, will be knit together to create a single image, he explained. That one photograph will then be compared to a more pristine image in which there are no known transient signals — interfering signals from, say, satellites or spacecraft — in addition to the optical signals emanating from the stellar systems themselves. The survey photo would be expected to have the same signal values as the pristine “control” photo, leading to a difference of zero. But a difference greater than zero could indicate a transient signal source, Polanski explained. Those transient signals would then be further processed in the software pipeline developed by Stewart to kick out false positives. In the future the team plans to use simultaneous multiple color imaging to help remove false positives as well.

Why Andromeda? The Trillion Planet Survey website notes that the galaxy is home to at least one trillion stars, a stellar density higher than the Milky Way’s, and thus represents “…an unprecedented number of targets relative to other past SETI searches.” The project gets the students who largely run it into the SETI business, juggling the variables as we consider strategies for detecting other civilizations and upgrading existing search techniques, particularly as we take into account the progress of exponentially accelerating photonic technologies.

Projects like these can exert a powerful incentive for students anxious to make a career out of physics. Thus Caitlin Gainey, now a freshman in physics at UC Santa Barbara:

“In the Trillion Planet Survey especially, we experience something very inspiring: We have the opportunity to look out of our earthly bubble at entire galaxies, which could potentially have other beings looking right back at us. The mere possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence is something very new and incredibly intriguing, so I’m excited to really delve into the search this coming year.”

And considering that any signal arriving from M31 would have been enroute for well over 2 million years, the TPS also offers the chance to involve students in the concept of SETI as a form of archaeology. We could discover evidence of a civilization long dead through signals sent well before civilization arose on Earth. A ‘funeral beacon’ announcing the demise of a once-great civilization is a possibility. In terms of artifacts, the search for Dyson Spheres or other megastructures is another. The larger picture is that evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence can come in various forms, including optical or radio signals as well as artifacts detectable through astronomy. It’s a field we continue to examine here, because that search has just begun.

Phil Lubin’s 2016 paper is “The Search for Directed Intelligence,” REACH – Reviews in Human Space Exploration, Vol. 1 (March 2016), pp. 20-45. (Preprint / full text).

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{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Thomas R Mazanec October 1, 2018, 13:18

    For the target is the nearest galaxy to our own

    Actually, several galaxies are closer, especially the Magellanic Clouds.

    • Ron S. October 1, 2018, 14:43

      Ah, but those are merely dwarf galaxies. The Pluto disease has gone intergalactic.

  • Alex Tolley October 1, 2018, 14:45

    As an optical SETI experiment, how long might the experiment run? A year, a decade, a century….?

    If the idea is to scan for a high intensity, but very narrow bandwidth optical signal, it almost makes more sense to scan the whole sky (or n nearest galaxies) and focus the effort on looking for that signal. If the whole sky image could be put through a spectroscope, detectors could look for transient intensity spikes.

    Now if a starfaring species like the Moties are on their way towards us…

  • ljk October 1, 2018, 15:20

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.07252

    How Much SETI Has Been Done? Finding Needles in the n-Dimensional Cosmic Haystack

    Jason T. Wright, Shubham Kanodia, Emily G. Lubar

    (Submitted on 19 Sep 2018)

    Many articulations of the Fermi Paradox have as a premise, implicitly or explicitly, that humanity has searched for signs of extraterrestrial radio transmissions and concluded that there are few or no obvious ones to be found.

    Tarter et al. (2010) and others have argued strongly to the contrary: bright and obvious radio beacons might be quite common in the sky, but we would not know it yet because our search completeness to date is so low, akin to having searched a drinking glass’s worth of seawater for evidence of fish in all of Earth’s oceans.

    Here, we develop the metaphor of the multidimensional “Cosmic Haystack” through which SETI hunts for alien “needles” into a quantitative, eight-dimensional model and perform an analytic integral to compute the fraction of this haystack that several large radio SETI programs have collectively examined. Although this model haystack has many qualitative differences from the Tarter et al. (2010) haystack, we conclude that the fraction of it searched to date is also very small: similar to the ratio of the volume of a large hot tub or small swimming pool to that of the Earth’s oceans.

    With this article we provide a Python script to calculate haystack volumes for future searches and for similar haystacks with different boundaries. We hope this formalism will aid in the development of a common parameter space for the computation of upper limits and completeness fractions of search programs for radio and other technosignatures.

    Comments: 20 pages, 4 figures. Submitted to The Astronomical Journal on 17th August 2018, Accepted on 11th September 2018
    Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)

    Cite as: arXiv:1809.07252 [astro-ph.IM]
    (or arXiv:1809.07252v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

    Submission history

    From: Shubham Kanodia [view email]

    [v1] Wed, 19 Sep 2018 15:39:31 GMT (536kb)

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1809.07252.pdf

    • AlexT October 2, 2018, 3:29

      “akin to having searched a drinking glass’s worth of seawater for evidence of fish in all of Earth’s oceans.”
      May be we have poor chance to find a fish in this glass, but if you will change the search target – you will obviously find a LIFE in the same glass, if you will use the proper instrument (microscope). So very probably we are using wrong instruments and false targets in our researches.

  • Geoffrey Hillend October 1, 2018, 15:51

    Laser light has it’s all it’s photons at the same frequency so the coherent light does not spread out very much. I guess astronomers would look for spikes at the same frequency in addition to brightness. I think it’s a good idea, but it seems to me more likely that we could find them in our own galaxy so we should search there also since it makes more sense that ET’s might want to send a message that could be seen and detected more easily.

  • ljk October 1, 2018, 16:01

    New and very interesting idea in looking for Dysonian SETI.

    Multi-Stellar SETI Candidate Selection (Kaggle Kernels)

    By Jose Solorzano | September 1, 2018

    “That multi-stellar extraterrestrial civilizations exist and that there’s spatial clustering in their colonization patterns. The hypothesis is not far-fetched: If a civilization is able to build detectable astro engineering, interstellar travel (and colonization) shouldn’t be far beyond their capabilities. Additionally, spatial clustering should be expected for the same reasons that human populations cluster on Earth.”

    http://www.science20.com/jose_solorzano/multistellar_seti_candidate_selection_kaggle_kernels-234091

  • John walker October 1, 2018, 16:15

    An interesting idea. There is a lot more in this paper than Paul has included in his summary. Worth attempting.
    But a word to the numbers.
    It is tempting to conclude that a trillion planet search field will surely contain at least one eti. Right? I mean a trillion is so large. In reality, if one intends to find signals from a biological civilisation based on an Earth equivalent at our technological level or up to a 1000 years more advanced, the outlook is statistically rather dire. We will not find a trillion Earths. An Earth equivalent still does not exist within our current sample of 4000 worlds. Not one. Granted there is a significant problem of sample bias. Its early days. Yet there are a miriad of confounding astrophysical factors each of which radically reduce the number of candidate systems in a trillion planet field. Additionally, the chances of finding amongst the small population of Earth equivalents a planet still within an active civilisatoric epoch of perhaps a few thousand years and within a temporal stellar population framework of up to 10 billion years will reduce the number of candidates by a factor of a further million.
    The chances of detecting even one living eti within this set by my admittedly speculative calculations approaches zero.

    Of course I can also think of a number of possible alternative sources of eti signals even in the rarified context of my own number crunching. Theyre sources will it seems to me however not reflect the widely held image of eti as beings recognizably biological or even as a product of some natural evolutionary process. That is similar to us but “smarter”. But who knows?

    If we survive our ego(animalian) era in which we still wallow, the long term viability of the terran born civilization will likely depend on our ability to transcend and neutralize the destructive urges born of our evolutionary past. Perhaps that is the key and the price to becoming a permanent sentient feature in the cosmos. I would not be surprised if that is the path all our eti predecessors followed to avoid self annihilation.

    But maybe I’m just projecting. Thats what we do.

    • Paul Gilster October 1, 2018, 16:28

      In particular, I didn’t get into the crux of the search idea, Lubin’s notion of ‘intelligent targeting,’ both because I was running out of time this morning, and because I hope to have a future article going into the question. Also, I need to learn a lot more about it. Dr. Lubin pointed out to me in an email this morning that the game theory aspect of blind-blind searches is critical to understanding the idea, and I’m going to have to come up to speed on that.

      • Eric Hughes October 1, 2018, 23:17

        I perked up at the notion that there was an identifiable mathematical problem in game theory in the cited paper. Insofar as an admittedly cursory search yielded, there’s not. In particular, there’s no direct citation to any such proper treatment in a mathematical journal. There’s plenty of talk of strategies, but I did not see a table of possible strategies, essential to positing a payoff matrix, perhaps because there was no talk of payoffs at all. Nor is there even the most basic kind of characterization of the game (for starters, it’s asymmetric, non-cooperative, non-zero sum, sequential, and single-round). And the only mentions of equilibrium are a couple of the thermodynamic kind. I’ll take any conclusion of optimality of a strategy to be premature at this point.

        • Paul Gilster October 2, 2018, 10:45

          Eric, sorry, for more on “intelligent targeting’ check not this paper but another one from 2016:

          Lubin, P. (2016). “Implications of directed energy for SETI.” In Planetary Defense and Space Environment
          Applications, volume 9981 of Proc. SPIE, page 99810H.

          I haven’t read it yet, though Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam reference it in relation to the subject, and I assume it gets into the game theory aspects. In any case, let me know if you track anything more down, and I’ll do the same.

        • John walker October 2, 2018, 15:37

          There is no rigorous application of game theory in Lubins papers. They are, despite multiple mathmatical references, rather casually formulated. Actually written in a spoken style complete with Lubins typical flippancy.
          “How long is a reasonable time to search for the existence of intelligence outside the Earth before we give up and admit we are alone? This is clearly a difficult question to ask and may require subsequent therapy. Some of the funding agencies answered this long ago. We will not discuss this part. However, it is not unreasonable to assume that the questions being asked are of great importance to some people (who need job security) and perhaps a human lifetime is not an unreasonable start. Let’s just go for the time to tenure – say 35 years from BOL (beginning of life) to pick a simple number. …”
          Lubin is always an enjoyable read. His arguments are straight forward and easily digestable. When as here the topic has a large speculative element he really tries to cover most of the bases(and basis) for potential critical questioning.

  • andy October 1, 2018, 17:41

    Well we still have an asteroid belt after 4.6 billion years, so apparently no-one’s shown up to mine it all out. Maybe this survey will catch some new unexpected neutron star phenomena (on that subject, here’s yet another neutron star doing something weird) – I guess we’ll be playing more rounds of “neutron star or technosignature” for quite a while to come…

    • Alex Tolley October 1, 2018, 20:46

      Asteroid do look like rubble piles. Maybe they are mine tailings after all the precious elements have been extracted. ;)

    • ljk October 2, 2018, 9:18

      Why mine the Sol system’s planetoid and comet belts when we know for a fact that so many other systems have their own such belts? And if there are systems with no inhabitants, not even unsophisticated ones like us, no doubt they would make much better choices for mining.

      • andy October 4, 2018, 13:47

        Good point. Tau Ceti’s only got a bunch of gas dwarfs for planets and has been sitting around with all that easily-mineable debris for far longer than we have and no-one’s shown up to mine that one out either.

        • ljk October 5, 2018, 14:45

          But seriously, how do we know that? We can barely tell Tau Ceti has planets and a planetoid/comet belt, let alone anything else that would certainly be much smaller. Would a spacefaring civilization need to deplete an entire belt in order to satisfy its needs? In fact the only time I see that happening is if they were building a Dyson Shell and I do not think that is the case for TC.

          In addition, as this blog has a number of articles on both future humans and ETI inhabiting the planetoid and especially the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud (and their extraterrestrial equivalents), then such systems would appear to be even more untouched, since naturally the inhabitants would not be tearing apart the places they live in. There might also be a defensive/survival advantage to making their celestial dwellings look like ordinary planetoids and comets from the exteriors.

  • Richard Mitnick October 1, 2018, 18:01

    When describing a Messier object, it is necessary to spell out “Messier”

    Here is Wikipedia on “M31”:

    Roadways

    M31 motorway, a planned but unbuilt motorway in England
    M-31 (Michigan highway), a former state highway in Michigan
    Hume Highway in Australia, designated “M31”
    M31 motorway (Hungary), a short motorway section near Budapest, Hungary

    Military

    Suomi M-31 SMG, a Finnish WWII-era submachine gun
    M31 HEAT rifle grenade
    M31 Recovery Vehicle based on the M3 Lee tank
    M31 rocket, an alternate designation for the MGR-1 Honest John, a United States military rocket
    M31 missile, MLRS
    M31 is the pennant number for HMS Cattistock, a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel

    Other

    M31 (New York City bus), a New York City Bus route in Manhattan
    M31: A Family Romance, a novel by writer Stephen Wright
    Messier 31 (M31), a spiral galaxy also called the Andromeda Galaxy

    • jlandau October 1, 2018, 20:31

      Really? The first sentence that mentions M31 in the article is this one, in paragraph 2:

      “The Trillion Planet Survey will use a suite of meter-class telescopes to search for continuous wave (CW) laser beacons from M31, the Andromeda galaxy. ”

      Not clear why you went to Wikipedia to look up M31 when Paul clearly identified it.

      • Bill October 2, 2018, 8:02

        It’s best to spell it out. The more you abbreviate the messier it gets.

        • Paul Gilster October 2, 2018, 10:35

          Well done, Bill!

      • ljk October 2, 2018, 9:21

        But think of how many different kinds of M31s you just learned about. Rejoice in the bounty!

  • Anton M. October 1, 2018, 19:05

    In absence of the smoke signal detection, we are switching to listening to tam-tams. Let’s call it progress.

    • ljk October 2, 2018, 9:20

      In the absence of really fast interstellar vessels – or even really slow ones at this point – how else shall we search for ETI? Granted the field has taken a very long time to move beyond the radio paradigm, but unless some aliens make the job much easier for us, we are going to search as well as we can for now, until our knowledge and/or technology improves.

  • Dmitry Novoseltsev October 1, 2018, 23:27

    I would like to draw attention to the following.
    In the case of artificial star clusters, which I wrote about, there are can be quite intense flights between the nearest stars, relativistic or subrelativistic, using light sails. In this case, when the trajectory is known to the receiving party in advance, the problems of both acceleration and braking are simply solved.
    If such processes take place in Andromeda or other galaxies, you can certainly fix their signs.
    But if we consider the system of photovoltaic converters and lasers as a whole, its efficiency will be low, while the system is quite complex, which reduces its reliability. Perhaps, in artificial star clusters can be used not lasers, but mirrors. Large mirrors of star engine reflectors must already be present at the stage of assembly of the cluster to move the stars, and then to hold them at the specified positions in the cluster. Smaller auxiliary mirrors allow their radiation to be refocused on the sail. If the group of mirrors is correctly positioned, it is also possible to increase the acceleration area (in comparison with the acceleration from a point laser source). In this case, the radiation will not be narrow-band, as from the laser, but will correspond to the spectrum of the star.
    I suppose for an outside observer it would look like a flicker of a local group of close stars, which by other parameters should have been stable.
    I would like algorithms used in the project to process such data without rejecting them, and not only narrow-band signals typical for lasers.

  • Daniel Högberg October 2, 2018, 3:06

    Very exciting work! My gut feeling is that this, or similar research, will give us the first credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence elsewhere in our galaxy or in the universe.

  • AlexT October 2, 2018, 3:55

    I suppose there is good chance that more developped civilisations will find the better solution for astronomic distances communication and space travels than use of electromagnetic waves and photon propultion…
    So building of high power laser array has the same efficiency as – building higher and higher power audio speakers to increase the disnance of audio communication… (when electromagnetic waves allows to make communication for many orders longer distances when spending significantly lower energy amount per distance unit…
    I.e. when making calculation relatively to radio/laser SETI we should take in account and possibility to find the civilitation of our of lower level, there is a few causes to suppose that electromagnetic emission from more developped civilization should higher than our current.
    For example since we invented radio, the electromagnetic pullution rised up fir some time, but now in some frequency ranges it significantly dropped down (closing AM broadcast station or analog TV broadcast). I suppose that in next 10 spectral “image” of the Earthh will look totaly different from the present state.
    Sorry, but accounting Fermi paradox and absense of any positive results from SETI, there is huge probability that SETI ground – it is Steampunk … In same time I suppose we should continue SETI efforts – because negative result it is also result, but whole SETI concepts and methodes should be somhow adopted to reality…
    In same time

  • ljk October 2, 2018, 9:22

    Maybe some ETI are making an involuntary (?) trip towards us right now….

    https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/news/2018/10/gaia-spots-stars-flying-between-galaxies

    • Dmitry Novoseltsev October 4, 2018, 12:01

      And maybe a controlled flight? I used to think of an option where remote independent civilizations put their stars together to create an artificial star cluster on the periphery of the galaxy.
      More detailed: Engineering New Worlds: Creating
      the Future – Part 3. Principium, Issue 18, August 2017, pp. 31-41.
      https://i4is.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Principium18%20Aug2017%20opt.pdf
      It is very important that it is now possible to track the trajectories of individual stars. Now it would be interesting to extrapolate them – do not some of them converge in one local area of space?

      • ljk October 5, 2018, 14:50

        Thank you for sharing this. There was a recent piece that made the news about how we might be able to detect ETI if they are sophisticated enough to rearrange stars for their own needs, or even as a form of communication! I think if aliens can manipulate whole stars the overwhelming message will be Don’t Mess With Us!

        You might find this site to be of interest and perhaps even stimulate some ideas along the lines you wrote about:

        https://orionsarm.com/

        https://orionsarm.com/

  • Harry R Ray October 2, 2018, 10:19

    A bad, BAD week for the Standard Model! Late last week came news of a most likely(i.e 3 sigma. This one’s gonna need to be 6 to be confirmed, though)DIRECT detection of a super-symetric lepton called a Squark Slepton(YUCK!!!!!)at ANITA and Ice Cube. THEN: Today comes a report of an ALMOST CERTAIN(I’m guessing 4-5 sigma)INDIRECT detection of a pseudo-boson(don’t even ask, just google it)called a Majoron(DIFFERENT from a Majorana fermion)at Ice Cube. Maybe these students should ALSO do an exercise that conjures up ways that these(and other)particles(should they exist)could be used by ETI to communicate with us,

    • John walker October 2, 2018, 14:43

      The sigma values alone should not be regarded proof. However, the ANITA I and ANITA III (stau (s)lepton?) detections were calculated by Fox, Sigurdsson et al as having an Ex SM sigma of 7.0.
      From the paper
      “An SM explanation for the two AAEs is thus ruled out
      by existing diffuse neutrino background limits, given the extreme improbability of success for individual neutrinos along these trajectories. To quantify this statement, we note that the Poisson probability of detecting two or more events against an expectation of λ = 2.4 × 10−6 events (upper bound on diffuse flux, divided by three for tau only, times success rate for AAE061228, times total ANITA exposure) is pdiffuse = 2.8×10−12, which excludes SM scenarios at 7.0σ confidence.”

      • Harry R Ray October 3, 2018, 9:32

        This may be splitting hairs, but my take on the 7 sigma claim was that these particles are definitely NOT ANY Standard Model particles. The only BSM particle that CURRENTLY “fits” the data is the Stau Slepton. However, the VERY FEW NUMBER of particles detected(only two at ANITA, and just a few more than that at Ice Cube)in my mind leaves the SPECIFICITY of these particles up in question. Remember, it took many MANY magnitudes MORE Higgs particle detections to get the confidence level high enough to publish, and even then there was some dispute as to whether they were ACTUALLY Higgs bosons or Technicolor Quarks until VERY RECENTLY, when decay was observed, and the resulting particles pointed DECISIVELY in favor of it indeed being a Higgs Boson.

  • Dmitry Novoseltsev October 2, 2018, 11:26

    It would also be interesting to observe the recently discovered dwarf satellite galaxies near the Milky Way in a similar way. They’re pretty old, 13.5 billion years old, almost 3 times the age of the Sun. It is enough that intelligent life, if it has arisen, has manifested itself in some astroengineering activity, even as slow as the movement of stars. And they are close enough that the signs of such activity are discernible. Perhaps the group Philip Lubin makes sense to replicate the algorithms and software according to the type of SETI@home to reach other objects, except Andromeda.

    • ljk October 3, 2018, 14:00

      Milan M. Ćirković has delved deeply into the behaviors of highly advanced beings:

      http://mcirkovic.aob.rs/

      One idea he has formulated is that some ETI may become so evolved that they essentially and literally blend into the cosmic background, becoming part of the Universe. A related idea is that these beings become so advanced and know and have done so much that they become essentially inert.

      While I am not terribly fond of doing this, think of the Q Collective in Star Trek, who have become so advanced and have lived so long that they live in their Q Continuum doing almost nothing because they have done basically everything already. Another one are the Talosians, whose amazing abilities to create realities with their minds left them unable to do much else or remember how their civilization’s machinery works.

      At the very least, he is taking highly advanced ETI to their hopefully logical conclusions. See the link above.

  • Dmitry Novoseltsev October 4, 2018, 0:18

    In continuation of the theme of mirrors and data interpretation I would like to recall the Tabby star again.
    On the first charts with the data, not only the luminosity dips were clearly visible, but also small, but pronounced local magnifications (for example, near the mark 10, the second chart above, figure 1, page 4, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03622.pdf). It looks as if some reflective object is rotating around the star, then shading it, then reflecting the light in our direction. Perhaps snow-white ice objects could reflect light in this way.
    The problem is that, according to Rosetta, the surface of the comet nuclei is very dark.
    Can so the tails of comets illuminated by star to increase the apparent brightness?
    Is there any natural explanation for this phenomenon – to distinguish it from reflections from artificial mirrors, which I wrote about earlier?

  • ljk October 4, 2018, 9:35

    Jason Davis • October 2, 2018

    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is getting a signal boost

    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is set to get a big signal boost, thanks to renewed interest from NASA and a private effort to scan the skies using an array of 64 radio telescopes.

    Last week, NASA sponsored a workshop that overviewed current searches for technosignatures, signs of deliberate engineering beyond Earth that manifest as anything from radio transmissions to structures orbiting other stars. The workshop comes on the heels of a congressional proposal to give the agency $20 million over 2 years to help “private sector and philantrhopic organizations” search for technosignatures.

    In an unrelated announcement Tuesday, the billionaire-backed group Breakthrough Listen announced they will use the the newly christened MeerKAT telescope array in South Africa to scan up to a million stars for radio signals over the next 5 years.

    It’s all a sign that the field of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is gaining new momentum as astronomers discover more worlds that may that resemble our own.

    “The fairly recent recognition that Earth-size habitable exoplanets are ubiquitous has sharpened the question of life in the universe in dramatic fashion,” said Andrew Siemeon, the director of the University of California, Berkeley SETI Research Center, and the principal investigator for Breakthrough Listen. “I think the new look at technosignatures is driven by that.”

    Full article here:

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/nasa-technosignatures-breakthrough.html

    To quote:

    Linda Billings, a consultant to NASA’s astrobiology program and self-described “SETI skeptic,” said she isn’t sure how the science community at large feels about NASA’s possible technosignatures directive. She said the SETI community itself, however, is certainly enthusiastic.

    “From where I’ve stood, I’ve observed that the SETI community has been relentlessly pressing NASA to get back into the SETI game pretty much ever since Congress cancelled the program,” said Billings.

    To hear NASA tell it, that game never really ended. Michael New, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for research, said at the technosignatures workshop that the agency has no outright ban on proposals for SETI technology development, though NASA has, until now, preferred to leave actual searches in the hands of the private sector, citing strong progress made there.

    Several scientists at the workshop objected, saying NASA has not been welcoming of SETI proposals since the early 1990s. Worden, who is the former head of NASA’s Ames Research Center, agreed with that assessment.

    “It was clear to me that you weren’t going to get funded if [SETI] was your primary purpose,” he said.

    New vowed that the agency would make it clear in future proposal calls that SETI is not a taboo subject, whether or not the technosignatures legislation survives the congressional budget process.

    “Regardless of what happens with the appropriations bill, that language will get fixed,” he said.

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