Breakthrough Listen has released a list of elements in space they are going to follow for their mission to find signs of intelligent alien life in our universe. The catalogue of these cosmic items is termed as "Exotica" and is expected to assist scientists in searching for technosignatures or technomarkers, scientific evidence, or indicator of the existence of technology developed by extraterrestrial intelligence.

According to the news release, "Exotica" is an innovative catalogue devised with a "diverse list of objects of potential interest to astronomers searching for technosignatures." It consists of over 700 distinct targets with an intention of including "'one of everything' in the observed universe. The comprehensive list includes the name of the items "ranging from comets to galaxies, from mundane objects to the rarest and violent celestial phenomena."

The directory of elements appears to be the first-of-its-kind in a long time that aims to cover the "entire breadth of astrophysical phenomena." The list was developed by the team at Listen with an objective to guide future exploration missions or events.

"Many discoveries in astronomy were not planned," said the lead author of the new catalogue, Dr. Brian Lacki. "Sometimes a major new discovery was missed when nobody was looking in the right place, because they believed nothing could be found there. This happened with exoplanets, which might have been detected before the 1990s if astronomers looked for solar systems very different than ours. Are we looking in the wrong places for technosignatures? The Exotica catalogue will help us answer that question."

"The catalogue is not just limited to SETI, though," added Lacki. "My hope is that any program with a new capability may use the Exotica catalogue as a shakedown cruise around the Universe."

The long list of astrophysical phenomena and material is classified into four categories: Prototypes (list of every known celestial object), Superlatives (objects with extreme properties), Anomalies (enigmatic targets that are yet to be understood completely) and a control sample of sources not expected to produce positive results.

"Breakthrough Listen has already greatly expanded the breadth and depth of its search," said Yuri Milner, the founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. "The publication of this catalogue is a new and significant step for the program."

Alien life search
METI planning to contact alien life in 2018 REUTERS/NASA/Handout via

Breakthrough Listen is a project committed to the search for intelligent alien life that was launched in January 2016. Based in Berkeley SETI Research Centre's Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley, this programme was founded by Yuri Milner. The first result of the programme was released in April 2017 and it is expected to go on for the next 10 years.