Believe it or not, this Russian tycoon has spearheaded a project worth $100 million just to listen aliens and now they published its initial results.
In 2015, Russia’s Yuri Milner began a $100 million effort to listen for aliens and called the project as “Breakthrough Listen,” and it’s a network of radio telescopes that target nearby stars and galaxies for 10 years now.
The first batch of data found 11 significant “hits” out of millions.
None of them are evidence of aliens, but the project is just getting started.
In July of 2015, Breakthrough Initiatives – a non-profit dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, founded by Yuri Milner – announced the creation of Breakthrough Listen.
The said 10-year initiative costing $100 million, this program was aimed at utilizing the latest in instrumentation and software to conduct the largest survey to date for extraterrestrial communications, encompassing the 1,000,000 closest stars and 100 closest galaxies.
Last April 20, at the Breakthrough Discuss conference, the organization shared their analysis of the first year of Listen data.
Gathered by the Green Bank Radio Telescope, this data included an analysis of 692 stars, as well as 11 events that have been ranked for having the highest significance.
According to the local reports, first results have been published on the project’s website, and will soon be published and available in the Astrophysical Journal.
In the past couple of years now, “Breakthrough Listen” team has been gathering data with the Green Bank Radio Telescope in West Virginia, the Lick Observatory’s Automated Planet Finder on Mt. Hamilton in California.
They also uses the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia.
The gathered data is analyzed and studied by the Listen science team at the Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC), who rely on a specially-designed data pipeline to scan through billions of radio channels for any sign of unique signals.
As of now the results were not exactly definitive, but proponents said this is just the first step in a program that will span a decade.
In a press release, Dr. Andrew Siemion, the Director of the BSRC, explained the milestone.
“With the submission of this paper, the first scientific results from Breakthrough Listen are now available for the world to review. Although the search has not yet detected a convincing signal from extraterrestrial intelligence, these are early days. The work that has been completed so far provides a launch pad for deeper and more comprehensive analysis to come.”
The Green Bank Telescope searched for these signals using its “L-band” receiver, which gathers data in frequencies ranging from 1.1 to 1.9 GHz. At these frequencies, artificial signals can be distinguished from natural sources, which includes pulsars, quasars, radio galaxies and even the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).
In some report it said that within these parameters, the BSRC team examined 692 stars from its primary target list.
For every star, they conduct a three to five-minutes observation periods, while also conducting five-minute observations on a set of secondary targets.
Combined with a Doppler drift search – a perceived difference in frequency caused by the motion of the source or receiver (i.e. the star and/or Earth) – the Listen science team identified channels where radio emission were seen for each target (aka. “hits”).
This led to a combined 400 hours and 8 petabytes worth of observational data. All together, the team found millions of hits from the sample data as a whole, and 11 events that rose above the threshold for significance.
These events (which are listed here) took place around 11 distant stars and ranged from to 25.4 to 3376.9 SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). However, the vast majority of the overall hits were determined to be the result of radio frequency interference from local sources.
As part of his excitement over the initial result, Director Andrew Siemion also took to Facebook Live on Thursday, April 20th, to presents the results of Listen’s first year of study.