Alien Dreams Dashed: Study Says Aliens Potentially 400,000 Years Away

Date:5 May 2022 Author: Juandre

Forming of a Communicating Extraterrestrial Intelligent Civilization in our current galaxy may takes thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of years.

We haven’t contacted aliens, but not for a lack of trying. That trying may not end anytime soon (think: 400,000 years soon) if a recent study into the forming of habitable planets and stars has any accuracy.

A new paper from a pair of Chinese astronomists on the search for Communicating Extraterrestrial Intelligent Civilizations (CETI) say that with the success rate we’ve seen so far—read: zilch—we may need to have some new habitats form before we can start chatting with our alien friends. And that could take anywhere from 2,000 to 400,000 years, if at all.

Published in The Astrophysical Journal, the paper by researchers at Beijing Normal University says that “one the most puzzling questions for humans is whether our existence is unique.”

With only one known data point—humans on Earth—the authors admit that knowing how many CETIs exist in the Milky Way is a “challenging problem” that pushes the “integrity of logic to its limits.” That said, they aren’t going to stop trying. Using star formation and knowledge of planetary system, the pair studies just how new stars could support life and when in the star’s formation life could be supported.

The pair of authors rely on the Drake Equation, a 1960s concept that estimates everything from star formation to habitable zones. By starting with the Drake Equation, considered more of a thought experiment, the Chinese authors add in the likelihood of planets and stars moving into the habitable zone and life evolving on them.

“Most studies on this problem are based on the Drake equation,” the authors write. “The obvious difficulty of this method is that it is uncertain and unpredictable to quantify the probability that life may appear on a suitable planet and eventually develop into an advanced communicating civilization.”

The most optimistic scenario had CETI beginning just 25 pecent into a star’s lifetime. With each planet holding a generous 0.1 percent chance of forming life, it may only take 2,000 years to communicate with our friendly (they are always friendly, right?) aliens on any one of the potential 42,000 CETIs that form in the Milky Way in that timeframe.

Of course, it may take much longer for life to form, and we may need our sun to cool a bit more, meaning that a star must run through 75 percent of its life before a CETI could develop. This scenario drops the chance of a CETI happening down to 0.001. That means the number of CETIs in the Milky Way dips from 42,000 to just 111.

It also gives us 400,000 years until something works out for us talking with our alien neighbors, if, of course, somehow our own civilization lasts that long.

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