Alien-seeking scientists have released a catalog of objects found in space that they hope can locate intelligent life.
The list of objects, or “Exotic”, aims to include one of each type of object in the known universe, in the hope that they can be studied by astronomers looking for indications of the type of technology that might indicate extraterrestrial intelligence.
It has been prepared by Breakthrough Listen, the project backed by scientists like Stephen Hawking and funded by a Russian billionaire who hopes to find evidence of extraterrestrial life. It has used its funding to increase the search for radio signals from space, as well as to develop new technologies to improve that search.
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Despite that work, astronomers have found no confirmed technology signature that could indicate that there is extraterrestrial life elsewhere. That could suggest that no other civilization can be found, but it could also mean that astronomers have not examined every possible target that could serve as a home for aliens.
Until now, astronomers have focused primarily on finding other life forms that resemble ours, in places similar to the conditions that gave rise to life on Earth. But the catalog could allow researchers to consider that there could be other types of environments that could give rise to technology that we could discover from Earth, the researchers hope.
“Many discoveries in astronomy were not planned,” said the lead author of the new article, Dr. Brian Lacki. “Sometimes a major new discovery was missed when no one looked in the right place, because they believed that nothing could be found there.
“This happened with exoplanets, which could have been detected before the 1990s if astronomers were looking for very different solar systems than ours. Are we looking for technology firms in the wrong places? The Exotica catalog will help us answer that question.” .
The catalog includes everything from the most mundane objects to very rare and violent phenomena. Astronomers hope it can be used to more precisely understand what habitats might support extraterrestrial life, as well as to provide more information on whether those objects may appear natural but in fact artificial.
“When it comes to the pursuit of intelligent life, it is vital to have an open mind,” said S. Pete Worden, executive director of Innovative Initiatives. “Until we understand more about the forms that another civilization and its technology could take, we must investigate all possible objectives. Cataloging them is the first step toward that goal. “