Feeds

UK boffins are going on an alien hunt

Going to catch a big one...

High performance access to file storage

Physicists have been hearing this afternoon about attempts by UK astronomers to find evidence of alien life - buried in over 2000 hours of archived telescope data.

A group of researchers at Leeds University re-examined images collected by the Whipple Cherenkov telescope in Arizona, and presented the results at The Insititute of Physics conference, Nuclear and Particle Physics Conference at the University of Surrey.

Whipple is used primarily for detecting high energy gamma rays, but is also useful for spotting the kind of optical signal that could be used to identify alien civilisations, the researchers say.

Dr Joachim Rose at Leeds University said: “The Whipple telescope has an ultra high-speed camera to record faint flashes of light from cosmic rays and from high-energy gamma rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere. There are 20 to 30 naturally occurring light flashes recorded every second. A few unusual images from extraterrestrial’s signals would be easy to miss as the analysis software normally rejects anything that it doesn't expect.

"On average we see such an unusual flash every six hours when pointing in the direction of one of these candidate stars. However, this is comparable to the rate of similar flashes in other regions of the sky where there is no candidate star.

The team has examined more than 2000 hours of telescope data from the archives, and it isn't letting anything as boring as a lack of solid results get in its way. Dr Stella Bradbury, who also works on the project, quotes astronomer Frank Drake: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

She continues: ”So far only a minute fraction of the sky has been searched and arrays of telescopes can carry out much more sensitive searches than a single telescope”. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.