In the Meerkat National Park, in South Africa, we find the largest radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. Its name, MeerKAT Radio Telescope, takes inspiration from its location. In this remote region of the African country, another effort begins in the search for extraterrestrial life. This dramatically increases the number of targets investigators can observe at one time.
Breakthrough Listen, the largest scientific team focused on the search for civilizations beyond our planet, ensure that this change It will allow them to multiply by a thousand the number of objectives at the same timeincreasing the chances of detecting extraterrestrial life.
Now, after three years of collaboration between Listen and MeerKAT, the instrument is ready to start your search. It is already described as the most powerful equipment ever deployed to assist in the search for technological signals in outer space. Said device is coupled to the radio telescope, controlled and monitored through the MeerKAT systems for the search for extraterrestrial life.
Listen strengthens the search for extraterrestrial life in various parts of the globe
In addition to relying on the MeerKAT radio telescope, Listen is also relying on other teams around the world. Among them, we have the Green Bank Telescope, in West Virginia, the Parkes Telescope in Australia, and others in search of technological signals. Nevertheless, the MeerKAT represents a significant improvement in the search for these extraterrestrial signals.
The reason is that the MeerKAT does not need to move its antennae to probe outer space. You can use its 64 cymbals at once to monitor an area 50 times wider than the one that can be observed by the Green Bank Telescope at the same time.
“Such a large field of view typically contains many stars that are interesting targets for technosignatures,” says Listen Principal Investigator Dr. Andrew Siemion. “Our supercomputer allows us to combine the signals from all 64 dishes to obtain high-resolution scans of these targets. with excellent sensitivityall without affecting the research of other astronomers who are using the array.”
This last statement is even more hopeful. If the new technology to search for alien life can work longer without interfering with other investigations, the possibilities of obtaining positive results are multiplied exponentially.
A promising future
According to Dr. Cherry Ng, a scientist on the Listen project, “It will take us just two years to search more than a million nearby stars.” Thus, MeerKAT “will provide us with the ability to detect a transmitter similar to the brightest beacons on Earth.” Being able to cover up to a distance of 250 light years in the usual mode of observation.
This, combined with the efforts of other agencies, such as SETI and METI, may allow us to find extraterrestrial life sooner than we expected. In fact, the scientists are already preparing everything so that humanity learns to talk to aliens from now on.