New telescope to give alien hunt a shot in the arm

June 11th, 2008 - 12:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Amsterdam, June 11 (ANI): Scientists are hoping that with the development of a new telescope known as LOFAR (Low Array), the search for aliens would get a boost.

Researchers from all over the world will now contribute to this effort to find ways in which LOFAR can be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.

There are about 100 thousand million stars in the galaxy and most of these are expected to harbour planetary systems. Some of these planets might actually be suitable for life.

Now, the search for such planets has got a shot in the arm with the LOFAR telescope that is currently being built by ASTRON. It consists of about 25,000 small antennas that will receive signals from space.

Despite the huge distances between stars, the next generation of radio telescopes, such as LOFAR, begin to offer the possibility of detecting radio signals beamed towards the Earth by other intelligent beings.

For the nearest stars, LOFAR might even be able to detect the leakage radiation associated with extraterrestrial radio and TV transmitters.

According to Professor Garrett, LOFAR is well suited to SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) research.

LOFAR can extend the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence to an entirely unexplored part of the low-frequency radio spectrum, an area that is heavily used for civil and military communications here on Earth, he said.

In addition, LOFAR can survey large areas of the sky simultaneously - an important advantage if SETI signals are rare or transient in nature.

SETI searches are still only scratching the surface, we need to use as many different telescopes, techniques and strategies as possible, in order to maximize our chances of success, according to Professor Dan Werthimer, the SETI@home project Scientist at the University of Berkeley in the US. (ANI)

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