Thus aliens may seek for human life

Thus aliens may seek for human life


In search for extraterrestrial life, we are usually them doing of eavesdropping. But Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer at Cornell University, wanted to know who could look there. we. “Who would we be aliens for?” she asks.

So Kaltenegger enlisted the help of Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist working at the Hayden Planetarium, part of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Together, they took on the task of identifying stars that could harbor alien worlds where inhabitants – past, present or future – would have a chance to discover Earth as a transitory exoplanet. This means that their planet would have the right spot to observe a slight dip in the brightness of our sun as the Earth passes, or passes, in front of it. This is the most successful method we Earthlings use to find planets beyond our solar system as they orbit their host stars, creating tiny slides in the light we can see with astronomical instruments.

In June, Kaltenegger and Faherty announced their results at Nature with an extensive inventory of stars that either had, or will later have, the right orientation to discover our planet. They identified over 2,000 stars, using a time interval from 5,000 years ago, when civilizations on Earth began to flourish, up to 5,000 years into the future. Not only that STUDY providing a resource for exoplanet hunters by determining which stars to pay attention to, it also provides a unique – and undoubtedly disturbing – perspective on our visibility for the rest of the universe. “I felt a little spied,” Faherty says, recalling the strange feeling of overexposure. “Do I want to be on a planet that can be found?”

“It’s a beautiful piece of scientific poetry, to think about how all these objects are moving through space in this elaborate ballet,” says Bruce Macintosh, an astronomer at Stanford University who was not involved in work. As the first study of its kind to consider changing the favorable points of stars as they shift over time, it builds on previous research that used only their current positions in the cosmos. “We can now make movies about what the universe will look like 5,000 years from now to the future, imagining all the stars winking as the planets hinder them,” he says.

The new result was made possible by the latest release of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, an orbital observer with the ambitious goal of creating a three-dimensional map of the positions and velocities of one billion stars. Combined with the planetary program that Faherty uses to visualize stellar movements, she and Kaltenegger found exactly 2,034 stars within Earth’s transit zone. For almost all of them, any alien being living on the planets orbiting these stars, with a fairly mature technology, would be able to detect the presence of the Earth for at least a thousand years. “On the cosmic time scale, this is a radar error,” says Kaltenegger.

But for human life, she says, it gives astronomers enough time to develop the tools they need to see other worlds. Kaltenegger and Faherty hope astronomers will use the catalog to find new planets, especially around stars that are not well known or well studied. From there, large-scale missions like that of NASA next James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch by the end of the year, can be used to study planetary atmospheres and look for signs of life. “This is a treasure trove of planets just waiting to be discovered,” says Kaltenegger. “I’m waiting for what people find.”


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