Possible extraterrestrials that inhabit planets around a thousand stars found by space scientists would have favorable conditions to detect our biosphere
One of the missions of space scientists is to find out if there is life on another world. But what if humanity really isn’t alone in the universe and extraterrestrial beings are also looking for life on other planets? A new study, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters , says there are a thousand stars that are favorably positioned to detect life on Earth .
“If observers were looking, they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in our planet’s atmosphere,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, study author and director of the Carls Sagan Institute at Cornell University in New York State . “And we can even see some of the stars shining in our night sky without binoculars or telescopes,” she pointed out.
Most of the more than 4,000 exoplanets discovered were found using the transit method. In it, astronomers detect the dimming of host stars as an orbiting world passes in front of them. In the new study, Kaltenegger and Joshua Pepper, co-author and associate professor of physics at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania , thought of Earth as being the target of transit research rather than the source of it, as is often the case.
Researchers used the transit method for discovery. Photo: iStock/cokada
Scientists examined data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) and the Gaia spacecraft , used for star mapping, and looked for stars as far as 326 light-years in line with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This alignment is necessary to see the planet cross the face of the star . With the search, 1004 stars were found. Of these, 508 “guarantee a minimum observation duration of 10 hours,” the researchers noted.
It is worth noting that the study deals only with stars. It is not yet known whether they are orbited by planets and whether these systems would be able to host worlds that can harbor life as we know it.
Such questions must be answered as exoplanet hunters scour the regions. “If we are looking for intelligent life in the universe that can find us and that wants to contact us, we have just created the star map of where we should look first,” concluded Kaltenegger.