According to researchers from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, the University of Washington, Yale University and Smith College, aliens might be out there trying to get our attention using a supernova.
Last month, a supernova designated SN 2023ixf developed and it was the largest one seen in 10 years. It was so bright that even amateurs with telescopes could spot it in the night sky.
“While we discover many supernova candidates every year, having one of them visible through small telescopes is exceptional. SN 2023ixf is one of them, thanks to its distance of just 20 million light-years from us,” wrote Italian astrophysicist and astronomer and founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, Gianluca Masi. “In addition, its host galaxy, the spiral Messier 101, is one of the most beautiful cosmic islands out there, making the vision even more precious and unique.”
Now, in a new paper posted to the preprint database arXiv, the aforementioned researchers, according to LiveScience, “intelligent extraterrestrials might use the supernova as an opportunity to send a message to other civilizations entranced by the dying star’s glow.”
To answer that question, the team marked an area around the supernova called a ‘SETI ellipsoid’ — an elliptical region of space where aliens living on potentially habitable planets would have a clear view of both the supernova and of Earth. In this region, the team identified 100 stars that are visible from Earth and that could potentially send us messages while we watch the supernova smolder.
Next, the team plans to listen in near those stars over the next few months with two major radio telescopes — the Allen Telescope Array in California and the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia — in hopes of picking up some alien technosignatures.
According to Phys.org, SN 2023ixf “lies in the same direction from Earth as Ursa Major and the supernova exploding in one of its arms represents one of the closest to be seen from Earth in decades.”
The reason for suggesting that aliens could use it to get our attention stems from the idea that they could send some sort of signal with the hopes that the gigantic supernova explosion would cause us to look in that direction and hear it.