2021 has given truth seekers and alien hunters a lot of food for thought. From the long-awaited Pentagon report on military observations of UFOs to new discoveries about habitable exoplanets, and the truth about the so-called “alien signal” from the closest star to the Sun.
Here are 9 facts we learned about aliens (and where to find them) in 2021, according to Live Science.
UFOs are real and the government knows it
In June, the Pentagon released a highly anticipated report detailing 144 UFO encounters between 2004 and 2021. The report officially confirmed several UFO sightings, which until then had been disseminated only through the yellow media.
Anyone hoping for an extraterrestrial intelligence recognition, however, must have been disappointed when the report failed to link any of the 144 described events to alien activity.
Black holes could be alien power plants
The study, published in July in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices, warns that scientists should not lose sight of nature’s most extreme objects: black holes.
Because black holes can emit 100,000 times more energy than stars like our Sun, they can be tempting targets for alien civilizations looking to set their interstellar ventures in motion.
To do this, aliens could use high-tech structures called Dyson spheres to steal energy from a disk of white-hot matter swirling around the black hole’s horizon, and then send it into space. Researchers are currently developing algorithms to search for these re-emissions.
Alien planets may not look like Earth
Typically, the search for alien life begins with a search for planets similar to Earth. But there may be another class of alien worlds equally favorable to life, according to a study published in the Astrophysical Journal in August.
The giant planets, which are 2.5 times the size of Earth and are covered in huge oceans of liquid water under a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, could be ideal places for microbes.
Not only are these planets abundant in the Milky Way galaxy, they are also incredibly diverse. The authors write that all options have the potential to have life, which means that a whole new area of study could emerge for hunters for alien intelligence.
One of Saturn’s moons may still be inhabited
Methane emanating from Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn, could be a sign that life is abundant in its underground seas, a June study found. In 2005, NASA’s Cassini Saturn orbiter discovered geysers ejecting ice particles into space from cracks near the south pole of Enceladus.
This material is believed to come from a vast ocean of liquid water splashing beneath the icy shell. Scientists have found that methane microbes can contribute to the planet’s gas geysers, which means life on an icy moon cannot be ruled out.
Scientists can ignore “alien debris” in our solar system
According to a recent book by Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, Aliens: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Oumuamua’s strange cigar-shaped object that flew through our solar system in 2017 is almost certainly part of alien technology.
In his book, Loeb argues that the object’s unusual elongated shape and apparent acceleration from the Sun suggest that Oumuamua is not natural in origin, but is part of alien technology – possibly thrown into our world by the solar system by accident.
Thousands of alien worlds could watch people grow
Although human efforts to find alien civilizations only began in the last century, more than 1,700 alien civilizations may have watched us thousands of years ago.
According to a study published in June in the journal Nature, 1,715 nearby star systems have had an ideal viewing angle of the Earth over the past 5,000 years. And over 1400 of them still have this image today.
“All of these stars are within 300 light years of our planet, and 75 of them are orbiting less than 100 light years away. Given that humans have been transmitting radio signals for about 100 years, any of these 75 star systems are close enough that “our radio waves have already covered them,” said lead author Lisa Kaltenegger, assistant professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University.
Another question is whether the civilizations living in these stellar systems want to communicate with us.
There is no perfect way to communicate with aliens
If aliens are watching us, what is the best way to tell them about yourself? Writer Joanna Thompson researched this issue in December, finding that no method is perfect.
On the one hand, radio waves are a tempting way to communicate with aliens because these signals are placed in a convenient gap in the electromagnetic spectrum called a “water hole.”
On the other hand, radio waves expand as they propagate, which means that any message we send will be the more blurry the farther from Earth it is.
Laser light does not have this problem, but laser signals require incredible precision and are unlikely to reach any alien observers unless we aim our message directly at their star system. Both methods have their advantages, and neither is perfect.
Our proprietary technology can get in the way
On April 29, 2019, astronomers discovered a signal going to Earth, most likely from Proxima Centauri, the closest star system to our Sun, where at least one potentially habitable planet is located.
Since the signal was caught in a narrow band of radio waves that planes or satellites rarely emit, the researchers interpreted this as a possible sign of alien technology.
But the signal was never repeated, and a study published this October in the journal Nature Astronomy explains why: The signal actually came from a faulty computer or cellular device near the telescope that detected it.
Alien Abductions Could Be Lucid Dreaming
Dreams, which humans are partially aware of and able to control, may explain so-called alien abduction stories, according to a study in July. The circumstances of the abduction often seem fabulous and cause feelings of horror and paralysis. Certain sleep states are known to induce similar feelings as well.
Scientists asked 152 lucid dreamers to dream of encounters with aliens or UFOs. And they found that a number of sleepers recounted dreams that resembled descriptions of alleged alien abductions.
Of those who described their dreams as “realistic,” 24% also experienced sleep paralysis and intense fear. Similar emotions often accompany reports of alleged alien abductions.
And while people describing their alien abduction may sincerely believe it was real, they likely experienced an extraterrestrial encounter during lucid sleep, the study authors said.