Alien civilizations could send us messages by 2029
Humans have used radio waves to communicate across Earth for more
than 100 years. Those waves also leak out into space, a fingerprint of
our presence propagating through the cosmos.
more recent years, humans have also sent out a stronger signal beyond
our planet: communications with our most distant probes, like the famous
According to popsci.com,
scientists recently traced the paths of these powerful radio
transmissions from Earth to multiple far-away spacecraft and determined
which stars—along with any planets with possible alien life around
them—are best positioned to intercept those messages.
team created a list of stars that will encounter Earth’s signals within
the next century and found that alien civilizations (if they’re out
there) could send a return message as soon as 2029. Their results were
published on March 20 in the journal Publications of the Astronomical
Society of the Pacific.
is a famous idea from Carl Sagan, who used it as a plot theme in the
movie Contact,” explains Howard Isaacson, a University of California,
Berkeley astronomer and co-author of the new work.
worth taking any study involving extraterrestrial life with a grain of
salt. Kaitlin Rasmussen, an astrobiologist at the University of
Washington not affiliated with the paper, calls this study “an
interesting exercise, but unlikely to yield results.” The results, in
this case, would be aliens contacting Earth within a certain timeframe.
radio signals travel through space, they spread out and become weaker
and harder to detect. Aliens parked around a nearby star probably won’t
notice the faint leakage from TVs and other small devices.
the commands we send to trailblazing probes at the edge of the solar
system—Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New
Horizons—require a much more focused and powerful broadcast from NASA’s
Deep Space Network (DSN), a global array of radio dishes designed for
DSN signals don’t magically stop at the spacecraft they’re targeting:
They continue into interstellar space where they eventually reach other
But electromagnetic waves like radio transmissions and
light can only travel so fast—that’s why we use light-years to measure
distances across the universe. The researchers used this law of physics
to estimate how long it will take for DSN signals to reach nearby stars,
and for alien life to return the message.
The process revealed
several insights. For example, according to their calculations, a signal
sent to Pioneer 10 reached a dead star known as a white dwarf around 27
light-years away in 2002. The study team estimates a return message
from any alien life near this dead star could reach us as soon as 2029,
but no earlier.
More opportunities for return messages will pop up
in the next decade. Signals sent to Voyager 2 around 1980 and 1983
reached two stars in 2007: one that’s 26 light-years away and a brown
dwarf that’s 24 light-years away, respectively. If aliens sent a message
right back from either, it could reach Earth in the early 2030s.
work “gives Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence researchers a more
narrow group of stars to focus on,” says lead author Reilly Derrick, a
University of California, Los Angeles engineering student.
and Isaacson propose that radio astronomers could use their star lists
to listen for return messages at predetermined times. For example, in
2029 they may want to point some of Earth’s major radio telescopes
towards the white dwarf that received Pioneer 10’s message.
other astronomers are skeptical. “If a response were to be sent, our
ability to detect it would depend on many factors,” says Macy Huston, an
astronomer at Penn State not involved in the new study. These factors
include “how long or often we monitor the star for a response, and how
long or often the return signal is transmitted.”
Our radio transmissions have only reached one-millionth of the volume of the Milky Way.
are still many unknowns when considering alien life. In particular,
astronomers aren’t certain the stars in this study even have
planets—although based on other exoplanet studies, it’s likely that at
least a fraction of them do. The signals from the DSN are also still
incredibly weak at such large distances, so it’s unclear how plausible
it is for other stars to detect our transmissions.
“Our puny and
infrequent transmissions are unlikely to yield a detection of humanity
by extraterrestrials,” says Jean-Luc Margot, a University of California,
Los Angeles radio astronomer who was not involved in the recent paper.
He explains that our radio transmissions have only reached one-millionth
of the volume of the Milky Way.
“The probability that another
civilization resides in this tiny bubble is extraordinarily small unless
there are millions of civilizations in the Milky Way,” he says. But if
they’re out there, there might be a time and place to capture the
Alien space debris stuck in Earth’s orbit, researchers say
Recently, a group of experts from Harvard University, led by physics
professor Avi Loeb, announced the possible presence of alien space
debris in Earth’s orbit, reports the Daily Star.
space research expert Professor Loeb is confident that the discovery of
such “interstellar objects could help expand our knowledge of possible
alien civilizations and technologies. A team of scientists is conducting
research to confirm that some of the objects in our orbit may be
connected to other star systems.
During an interview with Live
Science, Professor Loeb explained that these objects could enter the
solar system from interstellar space, defying Jupiter’s gravitational
pull and occupying limited orbits around the sun.
Some of them may
have technological origins similar to the probes sent by mankind into
interstellar space, such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11
and New Horizons.
despite these interesting assumptions, Professor Loeb did not specify
what specific objects he was talking about. In his research report, he
notes that there could be “a significant number” of potentially
detectable objects in Earth’s orbit.
To confirm their assumptions,
the team of scientists uses computer simulations and the Vera Rubin
Observatory (Chile) with a high-resolution camera of 3.2 billion pixels.
This will allow for regular observations of the Southern sky and the
possibility of detecting several captured objects about the size of a
It is assumed that these interstellar objects passed through the
boundaries of the solar system and may carry unique information about
other civilizations and their technologies. If we could confirm the
origin of these objects, the mysteries that open before us, this would
be a real breakthrough in space exploration.
expresses hope that the new research will not only help expand our
knowledge of extraterrestrial technologies, but may also lead to the
discovery of new alien civilizations . Answers to such questions can be
of global significance and influence our understanding of the place of
mankind in the Universe.
while there are still many questions and assumptions, the study by
Professor Loeb and his team opens a new chapter in space exploration.
Each new discovery can be the key to deciphering the mysteries of the
cosmos and the possibility of encountering alien life forms.
Betelgeuse is acting strange again
Betelgeuse, a red giant on the brink of death, continues to show
unusual behavior. After the Great Blackout, which occurred in late 2019
and early 2020, the star became unusually bright. It is now the seventh
brightest star in the sky, while it normally ranks tenth. This has led
to speculation that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode in a
spectacularly large supernova.
However, scientists believe it’s too early to tell, and it’s likely
that this behavior is due to ongoing fluctuations after the Great
Blackout of 2019, and the star will return to normal within a decade.
Betelgeuse is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It is
about 700 light-years from Earth and is a red giant in the last stage of
its life. It is also an unusual star for a red giant because it was
previously a monster blue-white O-type star, the most massive class of
Betelgeuse has changed its spectral type because it has almost
exhausted its hydrogen reserves. It now burns helium into carbon and
oxygen and has expanded to a gigantic size: about 764 times the size of
the Sun and about 16.5 to 19 times its mass.
Eventually it will run out of fuel to burn, become a supernova, eject
its outer material, and its core will collapse into a neutron star.
Before the Great Blackout, Betelgeuse also had periodic fluctuations
in brightness. The longest of these cycles is about 5.9 years and the
other is 400 days. But it seems that the Great Blackout caused changes
in these oscillations.
A new paper by astrophysicist Morgan McLeod of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has shown that the 400-day
cycle appears to have been halved. This pulsational cycle is probably
caused by expansion and contraction within the star. According to
simulations carried out by MacLeod and his colleagues, the convective
flow inside Betelgeuse may have risen and become material that separates
from the star.
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