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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A privately funded hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life has turned up empty so far, but a newly released trove of data could aid in the search.

The big picture: The search for alien life has gone mainstream in recent years, with multiple scientific ventures looking for radio signals that could signify the presence of intelligent civilizations somewhere else out there.

What's happening: The $100 million Breakthrough Listen project released almost 2 petabytes of data last week, including a survey of radio signals from various parts of our galaxy.

  • The project also searched for "technosignatures" emitting from the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov that came through the solar system last year, but didn't find any.
  • The new data includes the results of a hunt for signs of life around 20 stars that could, in theory, detect our planet in the way that scientists on Earth see other worlds.
"Because I purposely looked at nearby targets, my search was sensitive enough to locate a transmitter on par with the strongest transmitters on Earth. We can infer that there is nothing as strong as our Arecibo telescope beaming a signal toward us."
— Sofia Sheikh, who conducted the analysis, said in a statement

The intrigue: Only about 20% of Breakthrough Listen's total data has been analyzed so far, so it's still possible some exciting new findings could come from the raw data as scientists continue to pore over it.

Go deeper: The search for life as we don't know it

Go deeper

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.