New Alien Hunting Telescope Makes First Attempt to Find ETs Around Sun-like Stars
Our hopes of finding ET life on other planets just got a big boost from new technology. An instrument being called a telescope, but which is more like a data-compiler is looking for E.T.s in a brand new way. Will we find any?
The Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations—ESPRESSO for short, is a room-sized device that pulls together data from four existing telescopes, creating a much more detailed picture of target stars – those that might be able to support a solar system with extraterrestrial life.
Espresso, the data compiling system looks at medium stars not unlike our own son. So far more than 500 planets have been discovered utilizing this technique.
NASA’s Science Place pages state that,
“Our solar system is just one specific planetary system—a star with planets orbiting around it. Our planetary system is the only one officially called “solar system,” but astronomers have discovered more than 2,500 other stars with planets orbiting them in our galaxy. That’s just how many we’ve found so far. There are likely to be many more planetary systems out there waiting to be discovered!”
However, some people attest we’ve found life many times already.
Previously the Kepler telescope was used for this purpose, but its methods were quite different. Kepler uses a transit method of hunting ETs, or their most likely abodes. It stares at an individual star, measuring how much light it emits, and waits for a slight dip in the light emanating from the star. This would indicate that a planet is circling the star – just like the Earth going around our own Sun.
NASA’s Kepler missions, have single-handedly identified 2,515 exoplanets, this way, but there are scientists who say that this limits our ability to detect lie elsewhere.
In addition to studying exoplanets, ESPRESSO helps scientists to understand whether some of the two dozen traits they currently consider constants are, oddly, not actually constant after all, possibly changing some since the universe’s birth.
Last month, scientists working with ESPRESSO tested it against a set of well-studied stars and planets to make sure everything was working properly. Now, they say, it’s ready to start doing real science.
Espresso is being called “the next generation E.T. hunter” for its ability to look for life in a more comprehensive way.
As a planet orbits a star, it wobbles slightly due to gravitational pull. The less massive the planet, the smaller the wobble – which can make rocky and potentially life-bearing Earth-like planets hard to spot. The Espresso “planet hunter” detects light with extreme precision, making the detection f possible ET worlds more probable.
We’ve already been pointing radio telescopes to the stars for decades now, if not longer, and in recent years, efforts to send signals have intensified – with the hopes of getting a response.
Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Listen project picks up radio pulses that could be from black holes, neutron stars or, some speculate – UFO beacons. Scientists have already picked up signals that are from a dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light years away. These were fast radio bursts (FRBs), and their mysterious origins is still not clear.
“As well as confirming that the source is in a newly active state, the high resolution of the data obtained by the Listen instrument will allow measurement of the properties of these mysterious bursts at a higher precision than ever possible before,” said Breakthrough Listen postdoctoral researcher Vishal Gajjar, who discovered the increased activity.
Perhaps with the combination of these technological instruments, we can point Espresso toward areas of the Universe where we are getting FRBs and determine their most probable source.