Over the next two days, we will be participating in some exciting coordinated observations as part of the Deeper, Wider, Faster (DWF) collaboration. For a few hours of our time on the Parkes radio telescope, we will co-observe several galaxy clusters along with an array of optical, radio and space telescopes.
The DWF program was conceived to find transient phenomena like supernova, fast radio bursts (FRBs), and stellar flares, by pointing many different telescopes at the same patch of sky. If there's a bang, all the telescopes will see it, giving us a wealth of data. This should help solve some of the unsolved mysteries of the transient Universe.
The DWF program is also an exciting opportunity for SETI searches, because of the wealth of data and also because they are observing galaxy clusters. One of the targets, the Antlia cluster, contains about 234 galaxies: that's trillions of stars and trillions of potentially habitable worlds.
Breakthrough Listen will be running DWF co-observations with Parkes Thursday UTC 23:00-01:00 and Friday UTC 23:00-02:00. We will be joined by the Dark Energy Camera in Chile (optical), the HXMT X-ray satellite, the GROND and REM infrared telescopes, Pierre Auger high-energy telescope, and the Molonglo radio telescope, among others. If an interesting event is detected, other telescopes, such as the VLT in Chile and SALT telescope in South Africa will be triggered.
With so many telescopes, we have a fantastic chance of finding interesting astrophysical events, and there will be a wonderful dataset to mine for unusual signals that may indicate technologically-capable life.
Background image credit: The Antlia Cluster of Galaxies, Rolf Olsen