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Laser scientists at the Vienna University of Technology are searching for faint but repetitive light signals from the distant reaches of space, in the hope of identifying signals sent out by extraterrestrials, according to Astrobiology Magazine.

Because of their ability to transmit signals over vast distances, lasers have long been considered a possible means of contact by alien species.

But while astronomers have searched tens of thousands of stars for laser signals in the past – without identifying any signs of life – these previous studies have sought to intercept very intense bursts of light so powerful they are clearly artificial.

In contrast, the method being carried out by Walter Leeb and colleagues is designed to pick up laser signals which are much fainter, but appear at regular intervals over an extended period of time.

The researchers are developing technology which can detect signals as weak as a single photon (light particle) appearing every few billionths of a second.

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