Kepler System Planets Searched For Intelligent Life

Recently, a brand new Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) study explored 86 potential candidates across the universe for radio signals that could lead to the potential discovery of intelligent life in another galaxy. The research specifically took place within the Kepler space observatory’s field of sight.

There are currently three known planets within the Kepler-10 system, one of which was a target for the recent observation effort. Unfortunately, not a single radio signal was found during the test, but there were some promising Kepler objects located using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

“The 86 target stars were selected because they hosted planets discovered by [the year] 2011 with properties that could be conducive to the development of life,” said Abhimat Gautam, speaking with Space.

Gautam was a member of the team at the Berkely SETI Research Center, and presented the findings of the study at the 224th summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. The young scientist recently completed his senior undergraduate year at the University of California.

As of 2014, Kepler stands at 4,183 planetary candidates, with 996 already confirmed as planets. Gautum worked alongside Andrew Siemion and other scientists at the SETI Research Center to select 86 candidates for their most recent study. One of the conditions for a planetary candidate being selected was a surface temperature between minus 50 and 100 degrees Celcius (58 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit), a radio smaller than three times that of our Earth, and an orbital period of longer than 50 days in total. These conditions would place each planetary candidate within the acceptable habitable zone within their star system, a region where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet and the potential for life was greatest.

The latest SETI search focused around both active signals being broadcast by a potential intelligent civilization, and passive signals such as those created by television shows or airport radars.

“We expect intentional, active signals to be brighter and easier to detect than non-intentional, passive signals,” Gautam said.

The Research Center pointed the Green Bank Telescope at each target star with a radio beam spanning around 4.2 light years, enough to engulf an entire planetary system, including anything unknown within. The team found nothing when it comes to extraterrestrial intelligence, however, and concluded that less than one percent of stars within the region produce a radio signal over 60 times that of the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.