Breakthrough Listen launches new optical search with Arizona's VERITAS telescope array

phys.org | 6/19/2019 | Staff
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Breakthrough Listen—the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe—announced today a new collaboration between Breakthrough Listen and the VERITAS Collaboration in the search for technosignatures, signs of technology developed by intelligent life beyond the Earth. Joining Listen's ongoing radio frequency survey and spectroscopic optical laser survey, VERITAS (the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) will search for pulsed optical beacons with its array of four 12-meter telescopes at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.

VERITAS is the world's most powerful telescope array for studying high energy astrophysics with gamma rays. It detects gamma rays coming from space by looking for the extremely brief flashes of blue "Cherenkov" light they create when they hit the top of the Earth's atmosphere.

VERITAS - Beacons - Durations - Nanoseconds - Timescales

VERITAS will look for pulsed optical beacons with durations as short as several nanoseconds. Over such timescales, artificial beacons could easily outshine any stars that lie in the same direction on the sky. The use of all four telescopes simultaneously allows for very effective discrimination against false positive detections. The VERITAS Collaboration has previously published observations of the mysteriously dimming Boyajian's Star in search of such optical pulses (iopscience.iop.org/article/10. … /2041-8205/818/2/L33). The new program of VERITAS observations will provide complementary searches for optical pulse signatures of many more stars from the primary Breakthrough Listen star list.

"When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don't know where it exists or how it communicates," said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. "So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further."

Breakthrough - Listen - Search - Technosignatures - VERITAS

Breakthrough Listen's search for optical technosignatures with VERITAS...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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