Researchers Think This Is The Way To Find Aliens

by Lily Feinn

It seems we are obsessed with the hunt for extraterrestrial life, just look at the reboot of The X-Files, or the fact that nearly everyday people claim to see UFOs. And if you are one of those ET buffs, then today is a good day, because two astrophysicists claim that they have discovered the best way to find aliens!

In a paper recently published in the journal Astrobiology, René Heller and Ralph Pudritz, who worked together at McMaster University in Canada, propose that our extraterrestrial "neighbors" could be trying to contact us by the same methods that we are using to search for life among the cosmos. Could it be possible that ET is sending signals our way and that we are just ignoring them? If so, Earth might as well just text the universe "New phone. Who dis?"

But wouldn't we know if we were being contacted? Wouldn't we see or hear it? Not necessarily, it turns out. The universe is vast, and there are many many possibly important life sustaining planets and moons that we can't actually see. Researchers have been using a technique called the "transit method" to identify these worlds that are too far away to be directly observed.

This method observes from Earth's perspective the shadow created by planets and moons as they pass in front of their stars on their trajectory. The Daily News explains that by "Measuring the dimming of starlight as a planet crosses the face of its star during orbit, scientists can collect a wealth of information, even without ever seeing those worlds directly." So couldn't it also be possible that aliens are tracking us as we pass in front of our sun and deem our planet able to host life?

It’s impossible to predict whether extraterrestrials use the same observational techniques as we do,” the paper's lead author René Heller, who is now at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, contends, “But they will have to deal with the same physical principles as we do, and Earth's solar transits are an obvious method to detect us.”

This small portion of space where Earth's "solar transitions" can be observed Heller and Pudritz deem the "transit zone." They encourage researchers and scientists to turn their attention to that slice of the heavens.

To date, approximately 100,000 stars have been identified by radio telescopes within the "transit zone." Each of these stars have the potential to be orbited by a life-sustaining planet.'s prediction that we could be observed by aliens is favorable: "Observations by Kepler and other instruments suggest that every Milky Way star hosts at least one planet on average, and many of these worlds orbit in the 'habitable zone' — the range of distances from a host star where water may exist in liquid form on a planet's surface." So — hey, it could happen!

Heller and Pudritz propose that future efforts and research undertaken by the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI institute), the Breakthrough Listening Initiative, among other projects should focus on this "transit zone." They believe they have a better chance of success by narrowing the search, as they say in the paper, "If any of these planets host intelligent observers, they could have identified Earth as a habitable, even as a living world long ago and we could be receiving their broadcasts today."

So whether you are a believer or a skeptic, when you think about the enormity of the universe it seems pretty bold to think that we are the only advanced life forms floating among the stars.

Images: pixabay, giphy, McMasterUTV/YouTube