In a new paper published this month in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, astronomers at the the Astronomical Society of Australia describe using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope to explore the sky around the Vela constellation, which is visible in the southern celestial hemisphere.
"The MWA is a unique telescope, with an extraordinarily wide field-of-view that allows us to observe millions of stars simultaneously," Chenoa Tremblay, one of the study authors, told Phys.org.
"We observed the sky around the constellation of Vela for 17 hours, looking more than 100 times broader and deeper than ever before … With this dataset, we found no technosignatures - no sign of intelligent life,” Tremblay added.
Technosignatures refer to radio emissions at frequencies similar to those used in FM radio broadcasts, which could signal the presence of intelligent life.
Even though the search conducted during the study is the broadest search for extraterrestrial life completed yet, Steven Tingay, who was involved in the study, was not surprised by the results.
“As Douglas Adams noted in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ 'space is big, really big,’” Tingay said.
"And even though this was a really big study, the amount of space we looked at was the equivalent of trying to find something in the Earth's oceans but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool,” he added.
The MWA is located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.
The observatory was built by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an Australian Government agency that conducts scientific research.