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[b]$100 Million Breakthrough Listen Initiative Publicly Sharing Data from Unprecedented Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe[/b]
[i]'First light' for networked telescopes combing heavens; Vast searches announced for coming months; Open source data available for download on Breakthrough Initiatives website[/i]
[i]Breakthrough Listen[/i], the $100 million initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe, is releasing initial observational datasets to the world, Breakthrough Initiatives announced today.
January 2016 saw 'first light' for [i]Breakthrough Listen[/i], with observations marking the start of the 10-year effort announced in July 2015 at London's Royal Society by Yuri Milner, Stephen Hawking, Lord Martin Rees, Ann Druyan, and Frank Drake. Hundreds of hours of observations have taken place using the Green Bank Radio Telescope in West Virginia and Lick Observatory's Automated Planet Finder in Mt. Hamilton, California.
Today [i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] is releasing the first batch of data for public access at the Breakthrough Initiatives website. Data from the Green Bank Telescope is also available to users of UC Berkeley's SETI@home software.
Observations made so far by [i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] include most of the stars within 16 light years of Earth (including stars such as 51 Pegasi that are known to host extra-solar planets), and a sample of stars between 16 and 160 light years away. This included nearby sun-like and giant stars as well as numerous binary stars. The search also targeted around 40 of the nearest spiral galaxies, including members of the Maffei Group in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia. Stars within 16 light years accessible only from the Southern Hemisphere, such as Alpha Centauri, will be observed by the end of the year with the Parkes Telescope.
This year's Observation Plan for all three telescopes has been published and can be found here. Planned observations include:
[b]Green Bank Radio Telescope[/b]
World's deepest searches for artificial signals in five key samples (Northern Hemisphere) [list][*]All 43 stars within 5 parsecs, at 1-15 GHz. First-ever complete SETI survey within 5 parsecs. Sensitive to "Earth-leakage" levels of radio transmission.
[*]1000 stars of all spectral-types (OBAFGKM). Within 50 parsecs. 1-15 GHz.
[*]One Million Nearby Stars. In 2016, first 5,000 stars; 1 minute exposure (1-15 GHz)
[*]Centers of 100 nearby galaxies: spirals, ellipticals, dwarfs, irregulars (1-15 GHz)
[*]Exotic Stars: 20 White Dwarfs, 20 Neutron stars, 20 black holes[/list] [b]Parkes Radio Telescope[/b]
World's deepest searches for artificial signals in six key samples (Southern Hemisphere): [list][*]All 43 stars (at south declinations) within 5 parsecs, at 1-15 GHz. First-ever complete SETI survey within 5 parsecs. Sensitive to "Earth-leakage" levels of radio transmission.
[*]1000 stars (south) of all spectral-types (OBAFGKM). Within 50 parsecs. (1-4 GHz)
[*]One Million Nearby Stars (south). In 2016-2017, first 5,000 stars; 1 minute exposure (1-4 GHz)
[*]Galactic plane and Center (1-4 GHz)
[*]Centers of 100 nearby galaxies (south declinations): spirals, ellipticals, dwarfs, irregulars (1-4 GHz)
[*]Exotica: 20 White Dwarfs, 20 Neutron stars, 20 black holes[/list] [b]Automated Planet Finder: Optical Spectroscopic SETI[/b]
The targets will closely match those of the BL Green Bank radio search, with small adjustments due to the APF's much smaller field of view. The targets are: [list][*]All 43 stars within 5 parsecs accessible to the APF (north of declination -20 deg)
[*]1000 nearby stars of all spectral types, OBAFGKM main sequence and giants
[*]100 nearest galaxies (centers, north of declination = -20deg)[/list] "[i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] is officially on the air and scanning the skies for signs of intelligent life," said Milner. "It is a comprehensive effort, made possible by the tremendous scientific and technological advancements we've witnessed since the early days of similar efforts. Now, we join our trailblazing colleagues and ask people worldwide to review our collected data and explore the Universe with us."
"[i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] is up and running," said Pete Worden, Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. "For the first time we will obtain a comprehensive SETI search of our galactic neighborhood. Equally important, the public and experts around the world can obtain the data and help determine if we are alone."
"[i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] is a leap forward in our ability to systematically scan the skies for evidence of advanced life beyond Earth," said Andrew Siemion, Director of Berkeley SETI Research Center. "As our processing capabilities continue to grow in the coming months, and we release additional data, the opportunity for discovery will multiply enormously."
Data from the telescopes uploaded to the Breakthrough Initiatives website are indexed by date of recording, object name and other parameters. Scientists and those with computer science skills can analyze raw data from the telescopes and develop their own applications to work with these huge and rich datasets. And anyone with a computer or smartphone can help crunch the [i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] data via the SETI@home volunteer computing software. The University of California, Berkeley, is developing curriculum materials for [i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] telescopes, instruments, and data.
[i]Breakthrough Listen[/i] will obtain data over a 10-year period from a network of the world's most powerful radio and optical telescopes to yield vast, full-sky signal monitoring. It will collect more data in one day than previously had been collected in one year. Search capacity will be 50 times more sensitive, cover 10 times more of the sky, 5 times more of the radio spectrum, and at speeds 100 times faster.
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