Researchers Fail To Find Signs Of Life In 100,000 Galaxies

Researchers Fail To Find Signs Of Life In 100,000 Galaxies

A team from Penn State University analyzed data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite to look for signs of infrared radiation that would potentially be generated by alien life in a star-voyaging civilization.

Search for mid-infrared wavelengths

“The idea behind our research is that, if an entire galaxy had been colonized by an advanced spacefaring civilization, the energy produced by that civilization’s technologies would be detectable in mid-infrared wavelengths – exactly the radiation that the WISE satellite was designed to detect for other astronomical purposes,”says Jason T. Wright, an astronomer and astrophysicist at Penn State’s Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds.

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Interest in mid-infrared emissions first came up 50 years ago after physicist Freeman Dyson claimed that they might provide significant evidence of extraterrestrial life in an advanced alien civilization. It was previously impossible to measure such radiation until space telescopes such as WISE were developed.

The research team analyzed over 100 million WISE observations for evidence of galaxies that were emitting higher levels of infrared radiation than could be accounted for by natural processes. From this sample around 100,000 promising galaxies were identified, a much wider scope than during previous research, which involved only around 100 galaxies with potential for hosting alien life.

Advanced forms of extraterrestrial life could be out there

The latest WISE survey highlighted 50 galaxies with unusual radiation patterns, but it is unsure whether they are natural anomalies or evidence of advanced alien life.

“Our results mean that, out of the 100,000 galaxies that WISE could see in sufficient detail, none of them is widely populated by an alien civilization using most of the starlight in its galaxy for its own purposes,” says Wright.

The galaxies have existed for billions of years, sufficient time for advanced alien civilizations to have developed, if they exist at all.

“Either they don’t exist, or they don’t yet use enough energy for us to recognize them,” Wright says. Despite drawing a blank this time, researchers believe that their theory is solid enough to merit further investigation.

“Whether an advanced spacefaring civilization uses the large amounts of energy from its galaxy’s stars to power computers, space flight, communication, or something we can’t yet imagine, fundamental thermodynamics tells us that this energy must be radiated away as heat in the mid-infrared wavelengths,” Wright says.

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While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. <i>To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at [email protected]</i>

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