Has artificial intelligence detected extraterrestrial signals? A scientific study suggests that this booming technology could greatly accelerate the search for life in the Universe.

The quest for extraterrestrial life fascinates humanity and motivates numerous scientific research. Rovers, probes and telescopes track down the slightest clue of an environment conducive to the emergence of life. But what about the overwhelming majority of stars that are inaccessible and invisible from Earth? How can we detect life in the vastness of the Universe? Faced with this difficulty, scientists track radio waves originating from deep space in the hope of identifying an unknown signal coming from a distant star, planet or even moon. In this titanic work, the development of artificial intelligence could prove to be a revolutionary tool.

Although the search for extraterrestrial life seems like looking for a needle in a haystack, the amount of radio signals picked up by radio telescopes is absolutely colossal. Indeed, these come from different sources: black holes, magnetic storms, stars, galaxies but also from our activities! All the researchers’ work therefore consists of sorting these signals in order to preserve only those which are not emitted by natural phenomena or by human infrastructure. The manual study of all these signals therefore constitutes a considerable workload that is difficult to achieve given the mass of information to be used.

This is where artificial intelligence comes in with its ability to process a phenomenal amount of data in no time! A team of researchers whose study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy took advantage of this future technology to sort the millions of signals obtained by the largest steerable radio telescope in the world: the Green Bank Telescope located in West Virginia. The scientists used Machine Learning, which involves teaching artificial intelligence to filter signals to only keep those that seem promising.

Finally, eight radio signals coming from five different stars were identified by the AI. A priori, these signals which have caught the attention of researchers are not radio interference and are not naturally emitted by stars… Located between 34 and 88 light years from Earth, their sources are far too far away for the We could envisage a space mission going there. Has artificial intelligence unearthed proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial life? It is far too early to answer this question and there is insufficient data to conclude. But this new technology has proven itself and could occupy a central place in scientific research in the future!