With the aim of contacting alien life, astronomers have sent a radio message to a neighbouring star system – one of the closest known to contain a potentially habitable planet. The target star is GJ 273, also known as Luyten’s star, a red dwarf in the northern constellation of Canis Minor, just 12 light years away, said researchers at Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International.
The star has two planets. One of them, known as GJ 273b, orbits within the its “habitable zone” and could potentially harbour liquid water, and perhaps life, they said. By the calculations of the researchers, we could get a message back within 25 years. “I think that is an unlikely outcome, but it would be a welcome outcome,” Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, was quoted as saying by ‘New Scientist’.
The message was beamed from an antenna in Norway more than roughly eight hours over a three-day period in October, Vakoch said. It begins with information about counting, arithmetic, geometry, and trigonometry, and includes a description of the radio waves that carry the message, as well as a tutorial on clocks and timekeeping, to see if any potential inhabitants of GJ 273b have an understanding of time similar to our own.
The message was sent on the anniversary of the “Arecibo message,” a radio transmission beamed towards a distant star cluster in 1974 from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. That message contained information on the planets of our solar system, the structure of DNA, a cartoon-like picture of what a human being looks like, and other basic information about the earth and its inhabitants. However, the new message is simpler and may be more readily understood, Vakoch said.