A group of researchers analyzed 21 galaxies with high mid-infrared emissions. To their surprise, they found that four of these galaxies had emissions enhanced by a factor of 10. Two of the four were explained by natural processes, while the other two remain unexplained.
Researchers have identified two distant galaxies that could be home to advanced alien civilizations. Both galaxies show traces of unusual activity that could indicate the presence of a Type III alien civilization on the Kardashev scale.
One of humankind’s most profound and important questions is, “Are we alone in the universe?” The deeper we look into the universe, the more galaxies we discover. If numbers are correct, as of 2022, researchers estimate that there are over two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.
In our understanding of the cosmos and the number of galaxies birthed since our universe came into existence e 13.7 billion years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope has been of great importance. One of the deepest images of the cosmos is the so-called Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (the newest is the Webb Deep Field). The Hubble image revealed the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen and allowed experts to look further back in time than they ever did before. But even with this photograph, which contains some 5,500 galaxies, we are far from understanding the number of galaxies in our universe.
Are we alone in the universe?
While this question can’t be answered today with certainty, we are perhaps close to finding out.
Researcher Hongying Chen and colleagues from the National Astronomical Observatory of China scanned part of the northern sky. Their goal was to see where this particular area showed any signs of hyper-advanced alien civilizations.
Of the 21 galaxies they investigated, two particular galaxies stood out as having anomalous characteristics.
Their findings have been reported in a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Traces of Advanced Alien Civilizations?
The universe is indeed a gigantic place. If we consider various factors, such as the universe’s age and the number of stars and galaxies, it would be arrogant to think of Earth as the only planet where life emerged.
Perhaps somewhere, in a distant galaxy not so dissimilar to the Milky Way, a civilization sprang into existence and developed through millions of years, surpassing technologically even our greatest achievements.
The Kardashev Scale
To understand how advanced a potential alien civilization can be, we use the Kardashev Scale, developed by astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. It allows us to measure how technologically advanced a hypothetical extraterrestrial civilization is based on its energy consumption. The scale has three types of civilizations:
Type I Civilizations
This potential civilization has developed technologically to the point it can harness the entire energy of its home planet.
Type II Civilization
This potential civilization can harness the energy of the entire solar system, its sun, and its planets.
Type III Civilization
This potential civilization has achieved such a degree of technological development that it can harness the energy of the entire galaxy.
A type 3 civilization would have no issues using the many stars of its galaxies as energy sources by building hypothetical megastructures dubbed Dyson Spheres. This civilization could collect the entire energy a star produces by doing so. This way, and by harnessing thousands of not millions of stars in its galaxy, a Type III civilization could meet its growing energy requirements allowing them to develop further and explore the universe.
If a Type III civilization placed Dyson spheres around many of its stars in their home galaxy, we could probably find traces of them. This led Chen and co-author Michael Garrett to use the LOFAR Two-meter Sky Survey (LoTSS) to search for any signal in its infrared emissions that would indicate the presence of these megastructures. They combed through 21 galaxies with high mid-infrared emissions. To their surprise, they found that four of these galaxies had emissions enhanced by a factor of 10.
“Two of them were identified as natural sources — one was an active galactic nucleus, and another was a star-forming galaxy, which means their excessive mid-infrared emissions arise from different mechanisms,” Chen reveals.
“We don’t know the reason for the high mid-infrared-to-radio ratio of the other two.”
As per InVerse, the radio and infrared emissions from each galaxy correlate. Galaxy radiation emits information about its heat through the infrared spectrum. Chen explains that as part of their search for what amounts to alien exhaust, the duo examined the mid-and far-infrared spectrums. A civilization of Type III would produce excess mid-infrared emissions due to the waste heat in the mid-infrared region, thus affecting the correlation.
Two of the 21 galaxies stood out and are possible host galaxies of Type II alien civilizations. Researchers could not understand what caused the spike in mid-infrared emissions in both galaxies. While alien civilizations might be the culprit, other natural explanations, such as an unusually high star formation rate or an extremely bright galactic core, cannot be ruled out.
The galaxies, ILT J134649.72+542621.7 and ILT J145757.90+565323.8, will likely be analyzed in the near future. In their paper, Chen and his colleagues conclude that both galaxies “warrant further investigation.” Whether these galaxies are home to powerful, advanced alien civilizations remains to be seen. Future studies of the galaxies and observations across different spectra could help us answer one of the greatest questions our species has been unable to answer.
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