Using observations from NASA’s WISE orbiting observatory, some scientists believe that after searching 100,000 galaxies, there is no evidence of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.
“The idea behind our research is that, if an entire galaxy had been colonized by an advanced space-faring civilization, the energy produced by that civilization’s technologies would be detectable in mid infra-red wavelengths—exactly the radiation that the WISE satellite was designed to detect for other astronomical purposes,” said Jason T. Wright, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State University, in a statement.
NASA’s WISE mission finds new stars, but no ‘Planet X’:
The team has also discovered some new phenomena within our own Milky Way galaxy.
A statement released by Penn State Science said: “Whether an advanced space-faring 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-infra-red wavelengths,” Wright said. “This same basic physics causes your computer to radiate heat while it is turned on.”
Using space-based telescopes similar to the WISE satellite, we are now able to put Freeman Dyson’s theory into practice. The theoretical physicist said in the 1960s that advanced alien civilizations that are beyond Earth could be detected by the telltale evidence of their mid infra-red emissions. With satellites like WISE, we are now able to make sensitive measurements of this radiation emitted by objects in space.
All about NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer:
Roger Griffith, a post-baccalaureate researcher at Penn State and the lead author of the paper, said that he had gone through nearly the entire catalog of the WISE satellite’s detections, nearly 100 million in total. He was looking for objects consistent with galaxies that were emitting too much mid infra-red radiation. Griffith then categorized around 100,000 after individually examining the most promising galaxy images.
Wright stated: “We found about 50 galaxies that have unusually high levels of mid infra-red radiation.
“Our follow-up studies of those galaxies may reveal if the origin of their radiation results from natural astronomical processes, or if it could indicate the presence of a highly advanced civilization.”
Some of the new discoveries included a bright nebula around the nearby star 48 Librae, and a group of objects that were easily detected by WISE in a patch of sky that seams totally black when viewed with telescopes that only detect visible light.
“This cluster is probably a group of very young stars forming inside a previously undiscovered molecular cloud, and the 48 Librae nebula apparently is due to a huge cloud of dust around the star, but both deserve much more careful study,” Povich said in the statement.
“As we look more carefully at the light from these galaxies,” said Wright, “we should be able to push our sensitivity to alien technology down to much lower levels, and to better distinguish heat resulting from natural astronomical sources from heat produced by advanced technologies. This pilot study is just the beginning.”
It will be interesting to see what their second study brings out. I think to say there is nothing out there would be a bold statement as our understanding of space is still limited.