Sunday, December 29, 2013

Life in the Galaxy

Stars in the galaxy
Way back when astronomer Drake formulated the famous Drake equation for life in the galaxy, he determined the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy alone to be around one million.

This week, astronomers recalculated that there are 11 billion possibly habitable planets in our galaxy, greatly upping the odds that we're not alone in the universe. Researchers used four years of data from NASA's orbiting Kepler telescope to compute how many planets lie in their solar systems' "Goldilocks zone," where surface temperatures support liquid water. They found that one in five sun-like stars harbors a roughly Earth-size planet in the habitable zone, and the nearest may be only 12 light-years away — possibly close enough for communication. Given the sheer number of candidate planets, says astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, "surely some of them have all the necessary attributes of life."

Worlds beyond the solar system harbor intelligent life
We believe as space telescopes improve in resolution and capability, it won't be long and we'll discover intelligent life in the galaxy. Those in-space galactic neighbors only a dozen light years away may provide world changing communications. Why not? Many of our space probes take decades to return useful information. Communicating with advanced civilizations where it takes 10 or 20 years for a steady stream of data to reach us will not be unusual.

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