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Proceedings Paper

The trillion planet survey: an optical search for directed intelligence in M31
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Paper Abstract

In realm of optical SETI, searches for pulsed laser signals have historically been preferred over those for continuous wave beacons. There are many valid reasons for this, namely the near elimination of false positives and simple experimental components. However, due to significant improvements in laser technologies and light-detection systems since the mid-20th century, as well as new data from the recent Kepler mission, continuous wave searches should no longer be ignored. In this paper we propose a search for continuous wave laser beacons from an intelligent civilization in the Andromeda galaxy. Using only a 0.8 meter telescope, a standard photometric system, and an image processing pipeline, we expect to be able to detect any CW laser signal directed at us from an extraterrestrial civilization in M31, as long as the civilization is operating at a wavelength we can “see” and has left the beacon on long enough for us to detect it here on Earth. The search target is M31 due to its high stellar density relative to our own Milky Way galaxy. Andromeda is home to at least one trillion stars, and thus at least one trillion planets. As a result, in surveying M31, we are surveying one trillion planets, and consequently one trillion possible locations of intelligent life. This is an unprecedented number of targets relative to other past SETI searches. We call this the TPS or Trillion Planet Survey.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 September 2017
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 10401, Astronomical Optics: Design, Manufacture, and Test of Space and Ground Systems, 104010C (5 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2286945
Show Author Affiliations
Andrew Stewart, Emory Univ. (United States)
Philip Lubin, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10401:
Astronomical Optics: Design, Manufacture, and Test of Space and Ground Systems
Tony B. Hull; Dae Wook Kim; Pascal Hallibert, Editor(s)

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