Tag Archives: radio astronomy

First results from Breakthrough Listen’s search for alien radio signals

Breakthrough Listen has released its first results from its search for extraterrestrial radio signals using the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia.

Breakthrough Listen – the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe – has released its 11 events ranked highest for significance as well as summary data analysis results. It is considered unlikely that any of these signals originate from artificial extraterrestrial sources, but the search continues. Further, Listen has submitted for publication (available April 20) in a leading astrophysics journal the analysis of 692 stars, comprising all spectral types, observed during its first year of observations with the Green Bank Telescope.

The press release tries to make a big deal about this data, but essentially what it boils down to is that so far they have found nothing that could indicate artificial radio signals coming from any of these stars.

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The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has renamed the thirty-one year old Very Large Array (VLA) after Karl Jansky, the man who invented radio astronomy.

A fitting honor: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has renamed the recently upgraded thirty-one year old Very Large Array (VLA) after Karl Jansky, the man who invented radio astronomy.

Karl Guthe Jansky joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey in 1928, immediately after receiving his undergraduate degree in physics. He was assigned the task of studying radio waves that interfered with the recently-opened transatlantic radiotelephone service. After designing and building advanced, specialized equipment, he made observations over the entire year of 1932 that allowed him to identify thunderstorms as major sources of radio interference, along with a much weaker, unidentified radio source. Careful study of this “strange hiss-type static” led to the conclusion that the radio waves originated from beyond our Solar System, and indeed came from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

His discovery was reported on the front page of the New York Times on May 5, 1933, and published in professional journals. Jansky thus opened an entirely new “window” on the Universe. Astronomers previously had been confined to observing those wavelengths of light that our eyes can see. “This discovery was like suddenly being able to see green light for the first time when we could only see blue before,” said Lo.

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