The Application of Autocorrelation SETI Search Techniques in an ATA Survey

G. R. Harp, R. F. Ackermann, Alfredo Astorga, Jack Arbunich, Jose Barrios, Kristin Hightower, Seth Meitzner, W. C. Barott, Michael C. Nolan, D. G. Messerschmitt, Douglas A. Vakoch, Seth Shostak, J. C. Tarter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We report a novel radio autocorrelation search for extraterrestrial intelligence. For selected frequencies across the terrestrial microwave window (1-10 GHz), observations were conducted at the Allen Telescope Array to identify artificial non-sinusoidal periodic signals with radio bandwidths greater than 4 Hz, which are capable of carrying substantial messages with symbol rates from 4 to 106 Hz. Out of 243 observations, about half (101) were directed toward sources with known continuum flux >∼1 Jy over the sampled bandwidth (quasars, pulsars, supernova remnants, and masers), based on the hypothesis that they might harbor heretofore undiscovered natural or artificial repetitive, phase or frequency modulation. The rest of the observations were directed mostly toward exoplanet stars with no previously discovered continuum flux. No signals attributable to extraterrestrial technology were found in this study. We conclude that the maximum probability that future observations like the ones described here will reveal repetitively modulated emissions is less than 5% for continuum sources and exoplanets alike. The paper concludes by describing a new approach to expanding this survey to many more targets and much greater sensitivity using archived data from interferometers all over the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • astrobiology
  • instrumentation: detectors
  • instrumentation: interferometers
  • methods: data analysis
  • planetary systems
  • quasars: emission lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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