After a lengthy survey involving 10 million stars, Australian astronomers have reportedly found no trace of alien activity.
Astronomers Chenoa Tremblay and Steven Tingay began their search using data collected by the Murchison Widefield Array, located in Western Australia. They sought what they call alien technosignatures, signs of technology — in this case, low-frequency radio waves, like the ones we send out into space — that might hint at the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.
For 17 hours, the two astronomers tirelessly investigated 10 million stars in the Vela region of space in the southern hemisphere, “looking more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before,” as Tremblay describes.
What did they find?
But all is not lost. Their work not only revealed how (relatively) easy such a survey can be, but their sample size was incredibly small when compared to the rest of the visible universe:
“…even though this was a really big study, the amount of space we looked at was the equivalent of trying to find something in the Earth’s ocean, but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool.”
The lack of any signs of alien technology in their search doesn’t mean aliens aren’t out there. While Tingay mentions the relatively tiny area of space surveyed, there remain several other possibilities.
There’s the matter of space and time — new technosignatures may not have reached us yet, and old ones may have already faded away. Alien civs may also use technologies we don’t yet understand, which produce (or don’t) signals we’re just not looking for.
According to Tingay, this means that, going forward, we might have to search for aliens in different ways. That’s not to mention the more exotic possibilities — subterranean civilizations, or aliens living cloaked away and hidden, not wanting to be found.
So goes the search for alien life!