The perfectly synchronized planetary system was studied for signs of extraterrestrials

The perfectly synchronized planetary system was studied for signs of extraterrestrials

About 100 light years from the Solar System lives the most mathematically perfect planetary system we have ever seen.

Six exoplanets orbit an ordinary orange dwarf called HD 110067, each moving in harmony with its neighboring worlds. Such a perfect chain of orbital resonances is extremely rare, and means that the system has remained relatively stable since its formation about a billion years ago.

This is interesting in itself, and scientists are studying this phenomenon, but it also has another consequence. Such stability, according to a group of specialists led by astrophysicist Carmen Choza from the SETI Institute, provides good opportunities for the emergence, evolution, growth and prosperity of life. The study was published in the journal Research Notes of the AAS.

Illustration showing the resonant chain of exoplanets around the star HD 110067. (Thibaut Roger, NCCR Planets)

She and her colleagues conducted a thorough search for radio signals that indicate the existence of past or present technologies, so-called technosignatures. Although they found nothing, they think the system is intriguing enough to return to in the future with more sensitive observations.

Searching for extraterrestrial technosignatures in the Milky Way is not an easy task. The galaxy is very big and we don’t even know what we are looking for. If we take Earth as an example, the only world where life is definitely known (and therefore the only world where technology is known to have arisen), our radio signals only travel a distance of about 100 light years. Moreover, such distant waves must be incredibly weak.

But we can take the type of radio emissions produced by Earth technology and extrapolate it to what extraterrestrial technology might look like to determine the wavelength range and nature of the signals to search for. That’s what SETI scientists do, scanning nearby systems for signals that might match.

The HD 110067 system attracts attention. Not only is it surprisingly stable, all six worlds are smaller than Neptune, and some of them may have liquid water on their surface, one of the criteria scientists use to search for life.

To find alien technology, Choza and her colleagues combed through archival data from the Green Bank Telescope for the characteristic stretching and compression of key frequencies as the hypothetical civilization whirled back and forth in orbit around its star.

After ruling out all signals that could come from Earth, the researchers found no signs of alien technology as part of this search strategy. On the one hand, this is quite unpleasant, but on the other hand, it is only an exception to one possibility out of many possible ones. When it comes to aliens, we don’t even know what we don’t know.

What we do know for sure is that all of HD 110067’s physical characteristics remain as interesting as they were before researchers ruled out technosignatures of a specific nature in the Green Bank archival data.

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