Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Locating Potential ET Communication Networks in Space

Indiana University
There have been periodic efforts in recent decades to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), especially by trying to find an extraterrestrial (ET) radio signal or other technosignature in space. Yet, no such technosignatures have been found. Considering the vastness of space, finding such technosignatures has been described as trying to find a needle in a cosmic haystack. To help resolve this, two hypotheses are proposed to aid SETI researchers in narrowing the search for ET technosignatures, based on a network analysis approach to locate where in space potential ET communication networks would most likely be. A potential ET communication network can use exoplanets as communication access points (e.g., placing a communication satellite into planetary orbit, or an antenna on a planetary surface). The approach uses a topology where exoplanets are represented as nodes, and the lines of average distance (generalized communication paths) between adjacent exoplanets are represented as edges; the nodes and edges form local and wide planetary networks. Using the approach and data visualization on exoplanet databases can highlight locations of potential ET communication networks in space. The first hypothesis posits that an ET technosignature would more likely appear in a potentially habitable solar system containing a high concentration of planets, wherein the planets function as communication access points to facilitate a potential ET communication network. The second hypothesis posits that an ET technosignature would more likely appear in a highly concentrated cluster of potentially habitable solar systems. Contributions to the SETI field can be increased accuracy in finding ET technosignatures, increased accuracy in reaching a Schelling point (a mutual realization of how we and an ET intelligence can find each other), and promoting interdisciplinary SETI research.