Looking for the Lights of Alien Cities
Astronomers looking for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence are ramping up a host of new methods far more sophisticated than simply turning radio telescopes to the stars in the hope of eavesdropping on an alien civilization’s chatter. Not that people involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have given up on that approach. A well-funded program called Breakthrough Listen is in the process of studying radio emissions from a million stars and 100 galaxies, looking for just such transmissions. But astronomers are also rushing to find ever-better ways to study the thousands of exoplanets being turned up by sky searches, seeking not only to learn more about these planets’ geology, but also to find evidence that they may host life.