Catalog of space objects that may have extraterrestrial intelligence

(ORDO NEWS) — In July 2015, Breakthrough Initiatives announced the start of a ten-year study on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

This initiative was called “ Breakthrough Listen ”, combining modern software and data obtained by leading observatories around the world to search for signs of extraterrestrial technological activity (the so-called technosignatures).

In recent years, Breakthrough Listen has released two major data releases and announced a collaboration with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.

And more recently, Breakthrough Listen announced the release of its Exotica catalog – a diverse list of objects that may be of interest to astronomers looking for signs of techno signatures and extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI).

The catalog was described in a document called One of Everything: The Breakthrough Listen Exotica Catalog, and submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

The cataloging team was led by Dr. Brian C. Lucky, an astronomer at the SETI Berkeley Research Center (BSRC), and included members from the University of California at Berkeley, the SETI Institute, and several universities.

For convenience, the catalog is divided into four categories of objects: prototypes, excellent, anomalies and control samples.

The Prototypes category contains at least one known species of celestial objects that are considered a realistic and valuable target for observation. This includes planets and moons, stars of all ages (new, old, main sequences, red giants, etc.), star clusters, galaxies, quasars.

The category “Excellent” includes objects with the most extreme and / or record properties. For example, the hottest planets, stars with the highest metallicity, the most distant quasars, the fastest rotating pulsars, the densest galaxies, etc.

The Anomalies category applies to space objects whose behavior is still unexplainable.

Tabby Star
Tabby Star

Examples include the Tabby Star and its mysterious dimming; Oumuamua interstellar object , which circled the Earth in 2017; fast radio bursts (FRB), especially repetitive; and stars with excess infrared radiation, which can be interpreted as waste heat from megastructures.

The “Test Samples” category completes a series of objects that are not expected to yield any positive results.

Ultimately, Breakthrough Listen hopes that with the help of the catalog, astronomers will be able to answer some complex questions regarding SETI research. To begin with, they hope to shed some light on Fermi’s famous question – “Where is everyone?” Or more precisely, why didn’t we find evidence of anyone there?


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