Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have published a catalogue of every object type in the observable universe, in order to speed up the search for alien life.
The Exotica Catalog includes a list of 737 astronomical targets, which the researchers say contains “one of everything” in the universe. “The Exotica Catalog is an 865 entry collection of 737 distinct targets intended to include “one of everything” in astronomy,” they say in the abstract.
The project is a product of Breakthrough Listen, a research program dedicated to finding “technosignatures” which are signs that could be created by a technologically advanced alien species, according to Vice.
“Breakthrough Listen, the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the Universe, today released an innovative catalog of “Exotica” – a diverse list of objects of potential interest to astronomers searching for technosignatures (indicators of technology developed by extraterrestrial intelligence). The catalog is a collection of over 700 distinct targets intended to include “one of everything” in the observed Universe – ranging from comets to galaxies, from mundane objects to the most rare and violent celestial phenomena,” said Breakthrough Listen in a press release about the catalogue.
Breakthrough Listen to date has largely focused on the search for “life as we know it” – including Earthlike planets around Sunlike stars such as Kepler 160. Now we’re announcing an expanded approach, targeting “one of everything” in the Universe: https://t.co/7xP2aU2U34 pic.twitter.com/F4T0oABkcu
— Breakthrough (@brkthroughprize) June 22, 2020
“As far as we are aware, this is the first object list in recent times with the purpose of spanning the breadth of astrophysics. We share it with the community in hopes that it can guide treasury surveys and as a general reference work. Accompanying the catalog is extensive
discussion of classification of objects and a new classification system for anomalies,” said the researchers.
According to the paper, the project hopes to inspire other scientists who are on the hunt for aliens to remember everything that exists. They also urge scientists to look for life in the more unexpected areas of the universe, not only in those places that seem habitable.
“When it comes to the search for intelligent life, it’s vital to have an open mind,” noted S. Pete Worden, Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “Until we understand more about the forms another civilization and its technology could take, we should investigate all plausible targets. Cataloging them is the first step toward that goal.”
Find the paper here.