Study Finds Up to 36 Intelligent Alien Civilizations Possible in Milky Way

By , WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Most would agree it's a strange time to be alive, with a series of history-making events strung together in close succession  -- a global pandemic, national civil unrest, record-high jobless claims, stay-at-home orders, the end of sports as we know them, the closure of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues.

It's enough to make one wonder: What would the extra-terrestrials make of life on earth?

Let's ask them.

According to a study by the University of Nottingham in England, all things being equal, there should be roughly 36 active alien worlds in the Milky Way. "That's if intelligent life forms elsewhere in a similar way as it does on Earth," according to The report was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The study was led by Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, Christopher Conselice, who said,  “There should be at least a few dozen active civilizations in our Galaxy under the assumption that it takes five billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, as on Earth.”

In layman's terms, five billion years for intelligent life divided by the number of planets in the galaxy potentially hospitable to life equals 36. Give or take.

The calculation is called the Astrobiological Copernican Limit. It's based on the idea that on Earth, a civilization able to communicate formed after 4.5 billion years. 

It also takes into account star formation histories; how common metal-rich stars like the sun are in the galaxy; and the likelihood of stars hosting Earth-like planets in their habitable zones.

But don't gas up the Millennium Falcon just yet. Researchers say based on calculations that our nearest communicating life forms would be 17,000 light years away - a single light year is six trillion miles -- making it practically impossible to meet.

"If spread uniformly throughout the Galaxy this would imply that the nearest CETI is at most  lt-yr away and most likely hosted by a low-mass M-dwarf star, likely far surpassing our ability to detect it for the foreseeable future. And making interstellar communication impossible," the study found.

Even worse, there may not be enough suns to go around to foster this potential alien life across the galaxy. "Furthermore, the likelihood that the host stars for this life are solar-type stars is extremely small and most would have to be M dwarfs, which may not be stable enough to host life over long timescales," according to the report.

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