The Search For Intelligent Life Outside Earth: 1,000 Nearby Stars That May Host E.T. That Can Detect Life On Earth
Now that humankind is ramping up its search for intelligent alien life, it’s essential always to remember that intelligent E.T. life could also be the one hunting us as well. A new study now reveals that 1,000 nearby stars could host planets in which intelligent E.T. life is in a favorable spot to discover life on Earth.
The Pale Blue Dot
If there’s anyone out there that’s potentially searching for “intelligent” life in our star cluster, then they’d be able to quickly see a biosphere in our atmosphere. They’d be able to see a “Pale Blue Dot” that orbits the Sun. Of course, this “Pale Blue Dot” is the Earth, and it hosts all kinds of living species we know, including us, humans.
The scary thing is that we can see the stars that can potentially host alien life that might be hunting us without any telescopes or binoculars needed. One could only imagine the degree of difficulty it would take for alien races to be able to discover life on Earth, but nonetheless, it’s completely a possibility.
Dips In Brightness
Astronomers have been able to pinpoint around 4,000 exoplanets that feature the “transit method,” which is a method that can detect tiny dips in brightness, and these dips are caused when an orbiting world crosses its star’s face from our perspective. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope received credit for implementing this method, and it’s now being used by its successor, which is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
The Future of Exoplanet Survey
Soon enough, both researchers and scientists will have the ability to scan several atmospheres of transiting planets from nearby stars. This capability could certainly improve our chances of finding potential signs of life in the vast emptiness of space. However, it could also mean the other way around. Aliens could also be potentially hunting us, and we’d have to applaud them if they spot or find us first!
Interestingly, this search is a task that will be undertaken by NASA’s $9.8 billion investment which is the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s scheduled to launch by late next year. A few other ground-based telescopes are also up for the task, including the Giant Magellan Telescope. It’s definitely more comprehensive to get a good number of data and different perspectives on a transiting planet!
Which Stars Will Be The Main Focus?
Several scientists have been scrutinizing the datasets from TESS and Europe’s Gaia spacecraft. Both projects have been looking for stars within 326 light-years that are aligned with the plane of Earth’s orbit around the sun. If you’re wondering about this positioning, it’s the alignment needed to see Earth cross the sun’s path.
The resulting databased turned up around 1,004 stars that qualify the main sequence. These are stars that theoretically fuse hydrogen with helium in their cores. Interestingly, 508 out of the 1,004 stars guarantees a minimum ten-hour long observation of Earth’s transit across the sun’s path. The scientists who took credit for this discovery and milestone were Kaltenegger and Pepper in their paper published back on October 20 of last year.
A New Tool For The Hunt For Intelligent Life Outside Earth
Despite their milestone, Kaltenegger and Pepper’s data only deals with stars. They don’t exactly reveal the number of planets that orbit around the 1,004 stars that were flagged. It’s also impossible to tell using this system and data how many of these stars can potentially host a life-harboring planet like Earth.
Nonetheless, it’s a milestone, and the people behind TESS can use it as a stepping stone into the future of exoplanet hunting. The data and results can also be considered our species’ initial investment in the hunt for the next habitable planet. Kaltenegger said that their system and data could be used to know where to look first in our search for intelligent life in the universe other than Earth.