extraterrestrial life

Astronomer puts odds on extraterrestrial life existing: ‘Universe teeming with life … the favored bet’

Despite no clear-cut evidence, mankind has wondered for eons whether we’re alone in the universe. One astronomer, however, is almost sure that extraterrestrial life exists. In a new study, Columbia University astronomer David Kipping used the Bayesian model to determine the odds that life should exist on Earth. He found the odds are 9:1 or higher, despite scientists still not clearly understanding “how life occurred” on the planet, even if it’s widely accepted life started billions of years ago. “The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive,” Kipping said in a statement. “But in this study it’s possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us.” The Earth itself is widely believed to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. The Bayesian statistical inference, which is used to “update the probability for a hypothesis as evidence or new information becomes available,” found that intelligent life on Earth likely formed against the odds. The model looked at four possible answers: life is common and often develops intelligence; life is rare but often develops intelligence; life is common and rarely develops intelligence; lastly, life is rare and rarely develops intelligence. Kipping noted the “common-life scenario is always at least nine times more likely than the rare one,” but the odds of life being intelligent are weak. “[T]he possibility that intelligence is extremely rare and Earth ‘lucked out’ remains quite viable,” Kipping wrote in the study. “Overall, we find a weak preference, 3:2 betting odds, that intelligence rarely emerges given our late arrival.” “If we played Earth’s history again, the emergence of intelligence is actually somewhat unlikely,” he added in the statement. However, Kipling pointed out that the analysis “purely concerns the Earth,” and should not be applied to “potentially exoplanets being discovered.” “The analysis can only provide statistical probabilities, but the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet,” Kipping explained in the statement. “The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged.” The research has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As of April 2020, more than 4,000 exoplanets have been identified, including a “one in a million” super-Earth that was recently discovered. In early March, an astronomy student from the University of British Columbia discovered 17 new exoplanets, including one that is roughly the same size as Earth. Known as KIC-7340288 b, the exoplanet is “small enough to be considered rocky,” at just 1.5 times the size of Earth, and is in the habitable zone of the star it orbits. Another recently discovered exoplanet, K2-18b, is also “potentially habitable” and is just 124 light-years from Earth.

Mr. Kipping is saying what we’ve been saying here for many years; that the likelihood of life out there, on another planet, is FAR greater than not…given just how vast space is.     🙂

First Contact? Something in Space is Sending Earth Signals Like Clockwork, Scientists Don’t Know Why

Astronomers from around the world have long been fascinated by the mysterious radio signals bombarding our planet from deep in outer space, with some onlookers linking them to a possible extraterrestrial intelligence. A new study by an international team of scientists led by astronomers at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB) in British Columbia has discovered that a mystery radio source in a galaxy some 500 million lightyears from our solar system is sending out fast radio bursts like clockwork in 16.35 day cycles, including 1-2 bursts per hour over a four day period and then 12 days of silence before starting up again. The discovery is important, because out of the 150+ fast radio bursts recorded by Earth-based observatories over the last decade and a half, only ten of them have repeated, and none as steadily as the source discussed in the study. Furthermore, only a handful of them have been tracked back to the galaxy they came from. The mystery signal, known as FRB 180916.J0158+65 was first discovered in 2017, but has continued repeating steadily, albeit at a rate some 600 times fainter than the first bright flare. In their study, scientists analysed 28 bursts which took place between September 2018 and October 2019, confirming the pattern, and excitedly concluding “that this is the first detected periodicity of any kind in an FRB source.” The new FRB was tracked down to SDSS J015800.28+264253.0, a star-forming galaxy about 500 million light years from Earth. “The discovery of a 16.35-day periodicity in a repeating FRB source is an important clue to the nature of this object,” scientists suggested, providing several possible explanations for what may be causing the phenomenon. One possibility is that it is an object orbiting a sun which sends signals out only at a certain interval in its orbit. Alternatively, it could be a signal sent by a binary star system made up of a massive star and super-dense highly magnetized neutron star. Or it could be a stand-alone object caused by rotation or wobbling, such as a highly magnetic neutron star. And although the scientists don’t mention it, there’s no ruling out that this could be an alien life-form attempting to make contact with other lifeforms in the galaxy. Human scientists have been fascinated with the concept of using radio waves to try to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence since the 1890s, and countries have built a number of radio telescopes over the past century to listen out for incoming extraterrestrial radio waves. The study’s authors now plan to continue watching out for the signal-emitting object, looking out for clues regarding its origins. Scans of SDSS J015800.28+264253.0 by X-ray and gamma-ray radiation telescopes may provide further clues as to its identity.

Things that make ya go, “hmmmmm”    🙂

Aliens might live within 33,000 light-years of Earth, but why haven’t we found them?

Where is everybody? That question was first posed by physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950 and has now become known as the Fermi Paradox, the contradiction between the lack of any evidence that Earth has been visited by intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations and the high probability that one or multiple civilizations exist, due to a number of factors. While some studies claim humans are alone in the universe, a new study suggests that we have barely dipped our toes in the proverbial water when it comes to looking for intelligent life in space. The new study, published in The Astronomical Journal, states that previous searches for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are but a fraction of what is eventually possible. “[Jill] Tarter et al. and others have argued strongly to the contrary: bright and obvious radio beacons might be quite common in the sky, but we would not know it yet because our search completeness to date is so low, akin to having searched a drinking glass’ worth of seawater for evidence of fish in all of Earth’s oceans,” the study’s authors write, summarizing the paper. Jill Tarter is the former director of the Center for SETI Research and an American astronomer who describes herself as the “chief cheerleader for SETI.” The Fermi paradox includes several factors as to why humans have not yet found any evidence of extraterrestrial life: There are billions of stars in the galaxy similar to our Sun; many of these stars have Earth-like planets; and some of these civilizations may have developed interstellar travel, something that is being discussed now by experts, including theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. The researchers have developed a mathematical model of what they are calling a “Cosmic Haystack,” a haystack that is nearly 33,000 light-years in diameter, with Earth at the center. “Although this model haystack has many qualitative differences from the Tarter et al. haystack, we conclude that the fraction of it searched to date is also very small: similar to the ratio of the volume of a large hot tub or small swimming pool to that of the Earth’s oceans,” the summary adds. As part of the mathematical model, the researchers added eight dimensions to look for aliens, including inputs such as signal transmission frequency, bandwidth, power, location, repetition, polarization and modulation. The formula reads as “6.4 × 10^116 m5Hz2 s/W,” according to MIT Technology Review. So far, humans have searched just 0.00000000000000058 percent of the “cosmic haystack,” a minuscule amount, leaving almost infinite potential that intelligent life still exists, even if it has yet to be found. “This is about a bathtub of water in all of Earth’s oceans,” the study’s co-author, Shubham Kanodia said in a NASA workshop last month, according to Insider. “Or about a five-centimeter-by-five-centimeter patch of land on all of Earth’s surface area.”