Most Extensive Search Through Space Confirms We Are Alone
Researchers have confirmed we're all alone in the universe... for now.
The most comprehensive search for alien life to date has found we're alone in the universe, but scientists aren't giving up hope.
Over a three-year period, the Breakthrough Listen project searched an area covering 1,327 stars within 160 light years of Earth for signs of intelligent life.
The University of Berkeley was behind the search for extraterrestrials, using the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia and Australia's own Parkes telescope.
They said it was like "searching for a needle in a haystack".
Researchers had to sift through the vast majority of signals coming from human technology to identify 'technosignatures'.
"[Technosignatures are] evidence of technology (such as transmitters or propulsion devices) built by civilisations beyond Earth," researchers said.
The first technique used looked for 'narrow' signatures that were too well-defined to come from natural sources.
A filter then removed signals that came from fixed points in the sky.
Researchers then compared scans of the area surrounding the star being targeted and removed signals not coming from that direction.
Tens of millions of signals were discarded through these filtering techniques, and the team were left with a handful of signatures that fit the bill.
"The few remaining technosignature candidates were carefully examined, and determined to be outlying examples of human-generated radio frequency interference that survived the two cuts," researchers said.
Ultimately, they didn't find anything.
But the team isn't giving up hope of finding life out in the universe, said Dr. Danny Price, Breakthrough Listen Project scientist for Parkes.
“We scoured thousands of hours of observations of nearby stars, across billions of frequency channels," he said.
"We found no evidence of artificial signals from beyond Earth, but this doesn't mean there isn't intelligent life out there: we may just not have looked in the right place yet, or peered deep enough to detect faint signals.”