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A SETI survey of the Vela region using the Murchison Widefield Array: Orders of magnitude expansion in search space

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2020

C. D. Tremblay*
Affiliation:
CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, PO Box 1130, BentleyWA6102, Australia
S. J. Tingay
Affiliation:
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Curtin University, Bentley, WA6102, Australia
*
Author for correspondence: C. D. Tremblay, E-mail: chenoa.tremblay@csiro.au

Abstract

Following the results of our previous low-frequency searches for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), directed towards the Galactic Centre and the Orion Molecular Cloud (Galactic Anticentre), we report a new large-scale survey towards the Vela region with the lowest upper limits thus far obtained with the MWA. Using the MWA in the frequency range 98–128 MHz over a 17-h period, a $400\,\textrm{deg}^{2}$ field centred on the Vela Supernova Remnant was observed with a frequency resolution of 10 kHz. Within this field, there are six known exoplanets. At the positions of these exoplanets, we searched for narrow-band signals consistent with radio transmissions from intelligent civilisations. No unknown signals were found with a 5 $\sigma$ detection threshold. In total, across this work plus our two previous surveys, we have now examined 75 known exoplanets at low frequencies. In addition to the known exoplanets, we have included in our analysis the calculation of the Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) upper limits towards over 10 million stellar sources in the Vela field with known distances from Gaia (assuming a 10-kHz transmission bandwidth). Using the methods of Wright, Kanodia, & Lubar (2018) to describe an eight-dimensional parameter space for SETI searches, our survey achieves the largest search fraction yet, two orders of magnitude higher than the previous highest (our MWA Galactic Anticentre survey), reaching a search fraction of $\ \sim2\,{\times}\,10^{-16}$ . We also compare our results to previous SETI programs in the context of the $\mbox{EIRP}_{\textrm{min}}$ —Transmitter Rate plane. Our results clearly continue to demonstrate that SETI has a long way to go. But, encouragingly, the MWA SETI surveys also demonstrate that large-scale SETI surveys, in particular for telescopes with a large field-of-view, can be performed commensally with observations designed primarily for astrophysical purposes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Astronomical Society of Australia

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A SETI survey of the Vela region using the Murchison Widefield Array: Orders of magnitude expansion in search space
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