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Breakthrough Listen is a 10-yr initiative to search for signatures of technologies created by extraterrestrial civilisations at radio and optical wavelengths. Here, we detail the digital data recording system deployed for Breakthrough Listen observations at the 64-m aperture CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The recording system currently implements two modes: a dual-polarisation, 1.125-GHz bandwidth mode for single-beam observations, and a 26-input, 308-MHz bandwidth mode for the 21-cm multibeam receiver. The system is also designed to support a 3-GHz single-beam mode for the forthcoming Parkes ultra-wideband feed. In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, provide an overview of hardware and software, and present initial performance results.
The Rio scale is a tool for communicating the significance of a signal to the general public. It assigns scores to signals detected in searches for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), which characterizes both the consequences of a signal and the probability the signal is truly from ETI, in an easily digestible format for laypeople to interpret. In the 17 years since its construction, the number of groups actively conducting searches for evidence of intelligent life beyond the Earth has increased significantly, and theoretical work has established a new suite of observables that are capable of revealing the presence of ETI in a range of astronomical observations. In this paper, we revise the Rio scale, with the aim of (i) achieving consensus across academic disciplines on a scheme for classifying signals potentially indicating the existence of advanced extraterrestrial life, (ii) supplying a pedagogical tool to help inform the public about the process scientists go through to develop an understanding of a signal and (iii) providing a means of calibrating the expectations of the world at large when signals are discussed in the media. We also present (and encourage the SETI community to adopt) a single set of consistent terminology for discussing signals.
We undertook observations with the Green Bank Telescope, simultaneously with the 300 m telescope in Arecibo, as a follow-up of a possible flare of radio emission from Ross 128. We report here the non-detections from the GBT observations in C band (4–8 GHz), as well as non-detections in archival data at L band (1.1–1.9 GHz). We suggest that a likely scenario is that the emission comes from one or more satellites passing through the same region of the sky.
The discovery of a pulsar or pulsars orbiting near the Galactic Center (GC) could offer an unprecedented probe of strong-field gravity, the properties of our galaxy's supermassive black hole and insights into the paradoxical star formation history of the region. However, searching for pulsars near the GC is severely hampered by the large electron densities along our line of sight and the scattering-induced pulse broadening of the pulsar emission observed through it. As the broadened pulse length approaches the pulsar period, the periodicity in pulsar emission becomes nearly undetectable. Searches extended to higher frequencies, in an effort to reduce scattering, suffer from reduced intrinsic flux, higher system temperatures and increased atmospheric opacity. We are currently attempting to mitigate the challenges associated with searching for pulsars near the GC by employing new wide bandwidth receivers, upgraded IF distribution systems and novel digital spectrometers in a GC pulsar search campaign at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, USA.
Our search will cover two frequency bands, from 12-15 GHz (Ku Band) and 18-26 GHz (K Band), during a total of approximately 30 hours of observations, with expected characteristic 10-sigma sensitivities between 5-10 micro-Jy. Our first observations are scheduled for mid-March 2012. Here we will present the status of our observations and initial results.
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