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Scientists Scanning Beautiful Star System for Signs of Alien Tech

Perfect Harmony

Last year, scientists discovered a mathematically perfect star system — and now, they're looking into whether it might contain signs of alien tech.

Dubbed HD 110067, the star system located just 100 light-years from Earth has six exoplanets that are each perfectly spaced apart in the sort of mathematical harmony rarely seen in our chaotic Universe. In a paper published in the journal Nature last November, scientists listed off the astounding attributes of the system, which unfortunately did not include any planets in the so-called "habitable zone," or distance from the orbit-inducing star that could support life as we know it here on Earth.

All the same, scientists aren't done looking, and as radio astronomer and alien life-seeking expert Steve Croft of the University of Berkeley told Space.com, there's no reason that advanced civilizations may not have visited HD 110067 and potentially left some of their technology behind.

"Our technology in our own solar system has spread outside the habitable zone," Croft, who coauthored a new paper for the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society about the potential for alien tech in or around the start system, told the website.

"Even if it is a negative result," the radio astronomer added, "that still tells us something."

Instrumental Research

Soon after the discovery of HD 110067 was announced, Croft and his team got to work using West Virginia's Green Bank Telescope, the world's biggest fully-steerable telescope, to see what they could detect. The smoking gun, as Space.com describes it, would be radio signals present when pointing the telescope at the system, and missing when it's not.

Beyond radiosignatures from potential alien tech, there are also lots of other thing making that kind of noise, from WiFi connected cell phones to SpaceX's Starlink satellite, which understandably makes the process of finding one that's extraterrestrial very difficult.

"I should add we don't know if there are needles in the haystack," Croft said. "We don't really know what the needles look like."

So now, Croft and his team are sifting through the radio signals they've gotten while using other telescopes, such as the CHEOPS exoplanet satellite operated by the European Space Agency and Spain's HARPS-N and CARMENES instruments to better pin down the size and chemical makeup of the exoplanets so they can get a better grip on what to tune out.

"Sometimes people ask me, 'what are your chances of success in the next 10 years?'" Croft told Space.com. "My answer to that is, 'well, I don't know, but they are better than they were in the last 10 years because our searches are getting powerful all the time.'"

More on signs of life: Astronomers Discover Potentially Habitable Planet