For centuries, human being have looked at the night sky, hoping to see foreigners.
Now, a group of scientists is trying to find out where foreigners would have to be in order to watch us .
Researchers from universities in the U.K. and Germany have identified nine planets that are “ideally placed” for their resident astronomers to see Earth using the same methods Earth stargazers use to see them, according to a new paper published in the Monthly Notifications of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The astronomers looked for planets on which observers could view Earth’s transit across the sun — the period where, from their perspective, our planet moves in front of its home superstar, causing it to dim slightly.
The study builds on the work of astrophysicist Rene Heller, who proposed the idea that intelligent extraterrestrial life can be found in these “transit visibility zones” might already know about Earth in a paper published last year in the periodical Astrobiology.
“We’ve expanded on this by including all of the solar system planets and looking at the known and expected exoplanets in these regions, ” study lead author Robert Wells, a Queen’s University Belfast Ph.D. student, says.
The work was stimulated possible by the revival of the Kepler space telescope, which malfunctioned and was nearly left for dead in 2013.
Instead, engineers utilized sunlight pressure to stabilize the stellar eye afterwards that year. It had now been discovered more than 500 exoplanets — to intervene in the more than 2,300 total detected in the telescope’s eight-year running.
The next challenge? Seeing where ET might actually be listening for that bellow.
None of the planets identified in the paper have the conditions to support life. The researchers expect to discover more worlds in the prime Earth-viewing zone in the coming months.
“Our hope is to find some planets which are potentially habitable and can see transits of Earth, which I believe will be the best targets for SETI, ” Wells says.
Here’s hoping when do we track our galactic neighbours down, they’re not the kind we need Will Smith to deal with.
( Thankfully, we have Will Smith — just in case .)
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