Searching for technosignatures with WISE and GAIA
- Date: –15:00
- Location: Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1 Hjorter's room (Å73101)
- Lecturer: Matias Suazo, Erik Zackrisson Uppsala University
- Organiser: Division of Astronomy and Space Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- Contact person: Sofia Ramstedt
4 month seminar
The search for intelligent life beyond Earth represents one of the most captivating quests that humanity has ever undertaken. At the same time, it is clear that this represents one of the most extreme forms of a high-risk, high-gain endeavour in all of science. In fact, astronomers have already been scanning the skies for intelligent signals for close to 60 years, without detecting any signs of intelligent life. Many of the previous searches have, however, relied on the assumption that alien civilizations actively want to communicate with us and are transmitting easily recognizable signals in our direction. If the nearest extraterrestrial civilization is too far away, has no interest in contacting us, or is attempting communication through channels that are unknown to us, this approach to SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) is unlikely to succeed.
An alternative to the classical, signal-based SETI strategy could be to search for more indirect signs of extraterrestrial technology. A fairly generic expectation is that technologically advanced civilizations would ultimately strive to overcome the resource limitations of their home planet. One way of doing this would be to tap into the radiation energy of one's host star, through the construction of a so-called Dyson sphere - a structure or suite of structures that absorbs some fraction of the photons that would otherwise be radiated into interstellar space. In this seminar, which outlines the first-ever Swedish PhD project in the field of SETI, we will describe our plans for conducting the largest search so far for Dyson spheres in the Milky Way, using data collected by the GAIA and WISE space missions.