First Optical SETI Detection?

By | May 15, 2009

From a recent article in The Australian:

…when Ragbir Bhathal, an astrophysicist at the University of Western Sydney, who teaches the only university-based course on SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) in Australia, detected the suspicious signal on a clear night last December, he knew better than to crack open the special bottle of champagne he has tucked away for the history-making occasion.

Instead, he’s spent the past few months meticulously investigating whether the unrecognised signature was caused by a glitch in his instrumentation, a rogue astrophysical phenomenon, or some unknown random noise.

Even if he picks up the signal again – he’s been scouring the same co-ordinates of the night sky on an almost daily basis since – the scientific rule book dictates he’ll need to get it peer-reviewed before he can take his announcement to the world. “And that is a lot of ifs,” he concedes.

Has Bhathal made the first detection of an advanced technological civilization from an extrasolar planetary system?

According to the article, Bhathal’s OZ OSETI program is an optical SETI program searching for extraterrestrial laser bursts. The only optical SETI program in Earth’s southern hemisphere, OZ OSETI searches out to 100 light-years — an area large enough to contain at least 1000 stars and perhaps 20 times as many planets.

Which could mean — if Bhathal finds that elusive signal again — our first confirmed galactic neighbor may be closer than many predicted.

via Estimate of the Situation™ 2009: First Optical SETI Detection?.

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