Tag: aliens

Exoplanet Kepler-186f: Earth-Size World Could Support Oceans And Life (Infographic)

Astronomers have discovered a planet about the size of Earth, orbiting its star in the zone where oceans of liquid water would be possible.

A study of the newly-found planet indicates it could have an Earth-like atmosphere and water at its surface. The planet Kepler-186f is the fifth planet of the star Kepler-186, 490 light-years away.

The planet has 1.11 times the Earth’s mass. Its radius is 1.1 times that of Earth. Kepler-186f orbits at 32.5 million miles (52.4 million kilometers) from its parent star. Its year is 130 Earth days.

The planet orbits Kepler-186, an M-type dwarf star less than half as massive as the sun.

Because the star is cooler than the sun, the planet receives solar energy less intense than that received by Mars in our solar system, despite the fact that Kepler-186f orbits much closer to its star.

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How Aliens We’ve Never Met Could Help Humanity Escape Self-Destruction

Humans have had such a dramatic impact on Earth that some scientists say we’ve kickstarted a new geological era known as the Anthropocene.

A fascinating new paper theorizes that alien civilizations could do the same thing, reshaping their homeworlds in predictable and potentially detectable ways.

The authors are proposing a new classification scheme that measures the degree to which planets been modified by intelligent hosts.

Whenever a distant exoplanet is discovered, astronomers categorize it according to its most obvious physical features and orbital characteristics.

Examples include hot-Jupiters, Earth-like terrestrial planets, and brown dwarfs.

With ongoing advances in telescope technology, the day is coming when astronomers will be able to expand on these simple characterizations, classifying a planet according to other features, including atmospheric or chemical composition.

But as a new study led by University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank points out, we may eventually be able to place exoplanets within an astrobiological context, too.

In addition to taking the usual physical measures into account, Frank and his colleagues are proposing that astronomers take the influence of a hypothetical planet’s biosphere into account—including the impacts of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization.

Frank’s hypothetical planets, ranked from Class I through to Class V, range from dead, rocky worlds through to planets in which a host intelligence has solved the problems caused by its own existence, like excessive use of resources and climate change.

Moreover, as Frank explained, this paper presents more than just a planetary classification scheme—it’s a potential roadmap to an environmentally viable future.

If we discover signs of an advanced alien civilization—and that’s a big if—we may learn a thing or two about how we might be able to survive into the far future.

Indeed, we’re at a critical juncture in our history, one in which we’re crafting the planet according to our will—and so far, we’re not doing a very good job of it.

There’s ongoing debate as to whether or not our planet has crossed into the Anthropocene epoch, a new geologic chapter in which we’ve become the primary driver of planetary change.

Some scientists point to the fact that half of the planet’s land surface has been claimed for human use, or that Earth’s biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus have been radically altered on account of agriculture and fertilizer use, as evidence that we have.

While the technical debate over what constitutes evidence of a geologic shift continues, it’s clear humanity is altering Earth in some rather profound ways.

So much so, says Frank, that we need to place our planet, and the Anthropocene itself, within an astrobiological context. What’s happening here on Earth, says Frank, is likely happening elsewhere in the Galaxy.

Though we may be inclined to think that our situation is somehow special or unique, we have no good reason to believe that’s really the case.

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Why We Should Try To Contact Aliens – My Interview With Doug Vakoch

In today’s podcast, I sit down with Doug Vakoch, the founder of METI, or Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. We talk about why METI was founded, what their goals are, why we should try to contact aliens, and respond to some of the criticisms of the organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about what they do or want to get involved, you can check them out at www.meti.org.

TRAPPIST-1 Planets Probably Rich In Water

Planets around the faint red star TRAPPIST-1, just 40 light-years from Earth, were first detected by the TRAPPIST-South telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in 2016.

In the following year further observations from ground-based telescopes, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, revealed that there were no fewer than seven planets in the system, each roughly the same size as the Earth.

They are named TRAPPIST-1b,c,d,e,f,g and h, with increasing distance from the central star.

Further observations have now been made, both from telescopes on the ground, including the nearly-complete SPECULOOS facility at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, and from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope.

A team of scientists led by Simon Grimm at the University of Bern in Switzerland have now applied very complex computer modelling methods to all the available data and have determined the planets’ densities with much better precision than was possible before.

Simon Grimm explains how the masses are found: “The TRAPPIST-1 planets are so close together that they interfere with each other gravitationally, so the times when they pass in front of the star shift slightly.

“These shifts depend on the planets’ masses, their distances and other orbital parameters. With a computer model, we simulate the planets’ orbits until the calculated transits agree with the observed values, and hence derive the planetary masses.”

Team member Eric Agol comments on the significance: “A goal of exoplanet studies for some time has been to probe the composition of planets that are Earth-like in size and temperature.

“The discovery of TRAPPIST-1 and the capabilities of ESO’s facilities in Chile and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope in orbit have made this possible — giving us our first glimpse of what Earth-sized exoplanets are made of!

The measurements of the densities, when combined with models of the planets’ compositions, strongly suggest that the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets are not barren rocky worlds.

They seem to contain significant amounts of volatile material, probably water, amounting to up to 5% the planet’s mass in some cases — a huge amount; by comparison the Earth has only about 0.02% water by mass!

TRAPPIST-1b and c, the innermost planets, are likely to have rocky cores and be surrounded by atmospheres much thicker than Earth’s.

TRAPPIST-1d, meanwhile, is the lightest of the planets at about 30 percent the mass of Earth. Scientists are uncertain whether it has a large atmosphere, an ocean or an ice layer.

Scientists were surprised that TRAPPIST-1e is the only planet in the system slightly denser than Earth, suggesting that it may have a denser iron core and that it does not necessarily have a thick atmosphere, ocean or ice layer.

It is mysterious that TRAPPIST-1e appears to be so much rockier in its composition than the rest of the planets.

In terms of size, density and the amount of radiation it receives from its star, this is the planet that is most similar to Earth.

TRAPPIST-1f, g and h are far enough from the host star that water could be frozen into ice across their surfaces.

If they have thin atmospheres, they would be unlikely to contain the heavy molecules that we find on Earth, such as carbon dioxide.

Astronomers are also working hard to search for further planets around faint red stars like TRAPPIST-1. As team member Michaël Gillon explains: “This result highlights the huge interest of exploring nearby ultracool dwarf stars — like TRAPPIST-1 — for transiting terrestrial planets.

“This is exactly the goal of SPECULOOS, our new exoplanet search that is about to start operations at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

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The Wow Signal – Actual Proof Of Alien Life?

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The Wow Signal is a 72-second radio burst that was recorded in 1977 that has defied explanation for 40 years, leading many to believe it might be proof of intelligent life.

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Fraser Cain

Graph: By Maxrossomachin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index…




SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has access to telescopes all around the world, constantly scanning the sky for signals of alien communication.

Processing all of this information is a gargantuan task that would require a massive supercomputer that SETI can’t quite afford. So they came up with a brilliant idea.

It’s called SETI at home. It’s a program you can install on your computer that processes tiny parts of that data in the background.

Spreading that data across thousands of computers around the world, they’re able to crank through mountains of information, without the mountainous cost of a supercomputer.

But back in the 70’s none of that existed. Signals from space had to be printed out and processed by hand.

Which is exactly what astronomer Jerry Ehman was doing on August 18th, 1977. He was going over reams of printouts when he found a massive spike in a certain frequency of radio wave.

It was a spike 30 times higher than the background noise, and it was so noteworthy, he literally wrote “Wow” on the page.

It has since become known as the wow signal, and it’s still confusing scientists 40 years later.

The Big Ear went into operation in 1963 and was initially put to use on the Ohio Sky Survey, which catalogued nearly 20,000 sources of radio waves between 1965 and 1971.

Since it was on the ground, the telescope basically used the rotation of the Earth to scan across the sky.

When it measured a radio signal, they could infer by the time of day what direction the telescope was pointing and match that with visual sky surveys to figure out what star or galaxy it came from.

In 1956 on the grounds of Ohio Wesleyan University, construction crews broke ground on a massive telescope the size of three football fields to monitor the sky for radio signals from deep space.

It was officially known as the Ohio State University Radio Observatory, because it was actually run by Ohio State, but it was more well known by its nickname. The Big Ear.

The Big Ear went into operation in 1963 and was initially put to use on the Ohio Sky Survey, which catalogued nearly 20,000 sources of radio waves between 1965 and 1971.

Since it was on the ground, the telescope basically used the rotation of the Earth to scan across the sky.

When it measured a radio signal, they could infer by the time of day what direction the telescope was pointing and match that with visual sky surveys to figure out what star or galaxy it came from.

So a popular misconception with the wow signal is that 6EQUJ5 is some kind of alien code that we received but it’s actually just a measure of signal strength.

Ehrman and others immediately started pointing telescopes at the spot where the signal originated, which is in the constellation Sagittarius, but nothing has ever shown up.

So, it’s not a star or galaxy or pulsar or black hole because we’d pick up more signals from that location. As far as we know, and we’ve looked there a lot at this point, there’s nothing there.

At least, no cosmic body that would normally produce a radio stream like that.

But the mystery actually gets deeper. Because the frequency that this signal was found on was 1420 MHz. And if you were paying attention in last week’s video about the Voyager missions, 1420 mHz is the frequency that hydrogen atoms expel photons during hyperfine transitions.

(also known as 21-centimeter line or hydrogen line)

This same frequency was used by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake when creating the Pioneer and Voyager plaques as a way to communicate with an alien species should they ever come across the spacecraft.

Astronomers Detect 15 Signals From Mysterious Object In Distant Galaxy

While looking for signs of intelligent life in the universe, astronomers have detected 15 fast radio bursts from a distant galaxy.

These poorly understood phenomena are short pulses of radio emission, just milliseconds long, believed to be coming from rapidly spinning neutron stars or black holes in distant galaxies.

A less popular theory is that they’re signs of extremely powerful spacecraft from alien civilizations.

This particular fast radio burst (FRB), called FRB 121102, is of particular interest as it is the only known one to be repeating, something that astronomers can’t yet explain.

Earlier this month, astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia not only found 15 more bursts, but found them at a higher radio frequency than was ever observed before, the astronomers said in their findings published in The Astronomer’s Telegram.

It’s not surprising that we’ve found 15 more from this source; we’ve been detecting many of them over the past few years,” Paul Scholz, an astronomer who studies FRBs with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, B.C., said.

The one thing that’s unique about these [new ones] is that they are at a higher frequency than we’ve ever seen before.

Scholz, who was not involved with the new discovery, was with McGill University when he and a team of astronomers discovered FRB 121102 to be a repeater. In 2016, a McGill team was able to locate the source of the strange FRB.

At the time the signals left its host galaxy, Earth would have been two billion years old, less than half its current age. The only living things on the planet would have been single-celled organisms.


As though the object wasn’t strange enough, it also behaves like no other FRB. Typically, objects that emit similar signals, such as pulsars, do so in a smooth fashion across many frequencies. But that’s not the case with FRB 121102.

So it’s kind of perplexing,” Scholz said.

Scholz said that there could be reasons such as the signal being distorted between its source galaxy and Earth.

In the coming months, a new telescope in B.C. called the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is expected to begin its research into FRBs, with the possibility of discovering several a day, something that Scholz is looking forward to seeing.

It’s a mystery that needs to be solved,” Scholz said.

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69-Question Lightning Round Video

This time around I got almost 70 questions and I answer them all right here. Grab a snack. It’s gonna take a while.
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Hilbert’s Unanswered Problems:

Millennium Prize Problems:

PBS Spacetime: