Search for ET
Dr. Ragbir Bhathal
Optical SETI
Courtesy SETI League Photo Gallery
Watch this space

May 09, 2009
by Greg Callaghan
Article from:  The Australian

AFTER you've spent more than 20 years hunting for an alien signal, you think you'd be celebrating if you noticed a mysterious pulse suddenly rising up on your computer readouts. A regular pulse, amid the random clatter of the cosmos, suggests that someone very smart at the other end is sending a message.

But when Ragbir Bhathal, an astrophysicist at the University of Western Sydney, who teaches the only university-based course on SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) in Australia, detected the suspicious signal on a clear night last December, he knew better than to crack open the special bottle of champagne he has tucked away for the history-making occasion.

Instead, he's spent the past few months meticulously investigating whether the unrecognised signature was caused by a glitch in his instrumentation, a rogue astrophysical phenomenon, or some unknown random noise.

Even if he picks up the signal again - he's been scouring the same co-ordinates of the night sky on an almost daily basis since - the scientific rule book dictates he'll need to get it peer-reviewed before he can take his announcement to the world. "And that is a lot of ifs," he concedes.

The rest of the article deals with xtra solar planets... see here Gliese 581 e

Laser-like signal
coming from the southern constellation Tucanae
Courtesy Sky and Telescope
To weed out false 'hits,' an optical SETI experiment needs to use at least two detectors on the same target simultaneously. Ragbir Bhathal at the University of Western Sydney in Australia has designed an optical SETI project using separate 12- and 16-inch telescopes 20 meters apart. They watch stars for nanosecond flashes of light. Any such brief pulses from deep space could only be artificial. -  Sky and Telescope

From email...
Have that reply from Dr Bhathal

Hi Ron

Thanks for your email.  I think a couple of people from the European press made a mistake and associated my work with the work on extra-solar planets.  I am carrying out a search for ETI in the optical spectrum.  We are looking for laser pulse signals from outer space.

The signal we detected came from the southern constellation Tucanae.  Please find attached the signal for your use in your publications.

We are still in the process of trying to figure out whether it is an ETI signal.



Chart Courtesy Dr Ragbir Bathal
This is a celestial map of the constellation Tucana, the Toucan
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