While the quest to find exoplanet has generated over four thousand results so far over the past few decades, it raises the question of what may be looking back.
That very question was posed by two astronomers in a study posted Wednesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy of the Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, stated:
“In our search for life in the universe, we ask a little bit of a different question in this research […] We ask, who could have actually spotted us? Who could have found out that Earth is teeming with life from their vantage point?”
Kaltenegger and Joshua Pepper, an associate physics professor from Lehigh University, found more than a thousand stars similar to our sun that might feature Earth-like planets orbiting at a distance that is just good enough for life to dwell.
To clear it out, planets like those haven’t yet been detected or confirmed around those stars.
The potential planets are all located within 300 light-years from Earth, meaning that they might also have a direct view of Earth and the life that dwells on it.
“So we identified the thousand closest stars within 300 light-years, roughly, that could have spotted us already. Maybe there’s life out there in the universe. Maybe they already spotted us. What would they think?” asked Kaltenegger.
The analysis of a passing of a planet in front of its host star is known as a transit, and it’s one of the core methods used by astronomers to locate exoplanets with ground-based and space telescopes.