As we look for life on other planets, is anyone looking back at us?3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Research conducted by Lisa Kaltenegger (Cornell University) and Joshua Pepper (Lehigh University) explores this question through a study of stars that are like our very own sun and exoplanets.
Exoplanets are planets that orbit around stars. So far, scientists have found 4000 exoplanets and are awaiting confirmation about the existence of a 1000 more.
Exoplanets, that orbit around stars like our sun, are sites of possible life as the orbit allows them to simulate the conditions that earth operates under.
These stars may have planets orbiting at a distance from them, like the earth orbits the sun, making it possible to sustain liquid water on their surfaces. This distance is called the habitable zone.
Therefore, through the study of a transit (the observation of a passing of a planet in front of its host star), we can find planets that have life on them that may also be looking at us!
This is how Kaltenegger explains the process-
It takes a specific location to be able to see the Earth go in front of its star, the sun. And then once a year, if you see the Earth go in front of the sun from your point of view, the sun would be just a little bit less bright.Sourced from CNN
This would help the viewer to know if a planet orbits the star and if it is at the right distance (the habitable zone) to support water on their surfaces.
At present, none of these planets have been discovered but the search is on!
All these possible planets, within 300 light years from Earth, could have a direct view of the Earth and us who thrive in it. So we might want to think about who is looking at us.
And while we are there, we might want clean up our act and look good before a new audience.
This could involve rethinking all the hate, war, inequality, and destruction we are causing on our home planet!
Here’s a little activity:
This is what the earth looks like from a really far distance. Can you spot it?
Hint: It’s a Pale Blue Dot.
Okay, here is a little help from Owliver-
That is what we would look like to our seekers.
So small. So tiny.
And just like that, the pending homework does not look like the end of the world.
Image sourced from Wikipedia