(ORDO NEWS) — Communication across the expanses of interstellar space can be improved by taking advantage of the star’s ability to focus and magnify communications signals.
A group of graduate students at Pennsylvania State University are looking for exactly the kind of communication signals that our own sun could use if transmissions went through our solar system.
Because communications over interstellar distances will come with various power and accuracy challenges over such vast expanses, the researchers believe that any communications effort is likely to involve a network of probes or repeaters, much like cell towers in space.
In this study, they turned to one of the nearest stars, which should be a conjugate node in a communication network.
Scientists have considered a distance of more than 550 times greater than the Earth-Sun distance, opposite Alpha Centauri – the nearest star of our system, which may be the very node in the communication network – this is where a probe in our solar system should be located in order to use the Sun as lenses.
This has allowed researchers to potentially detect radio transmissions that could be signals sent directly to Earth to communicate with us, signals sent to other probes exploring the solar system, or perhaps even signals sent through a gravitational lens back to Alpha Centauri.
Studying these particular wavelengths also allowed the researchers to maximize the amount of data they could gather across the entire sky in a short amount of time.
The collection and analysis of data was carried out in collaboration with the Breakthrough Listen program, aimed at finding evidence of the existence of intelligent life outside the Earth.
The graduate students did not detect any signals in the studied wavelength ranges that could be of extraterrestrial origin in the area they observed, which indicates that signals at these wavelengths were not sent towards the Earth during the short period of time when they were searching .
Presumably, expanding the search to include additional observations or observations aimed at other nearby stars or other frequencies could be fruitful.
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