It seems we’re really not alone. A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal suggests that there are at least 36 other alien civilizations capable of communicating in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Initially, the Drake Equation is what scientists used to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations. In the new study, scientists have revised the way they calculate and assume the number of intelligent civilizations in outer space.
The additional assumptions take into consideration that other civilizations are chemically and evolutionarily much like Earth. According to Forbes, the new calculation called “Astrobiological Copernican Limit” considers star formation history, existence of metal-rich stars, and probability of the existence of Earth-like planets.
Scientists, however, say that 36 is just a “conservative” estimate and that there are believably 211 civilizations at most that are able to send out signals. They also believe that interstellar communication with these civilizations is also impossible “in the foreseeable future” because the average distance between the Earth and the nearest civilization is around 17,000 light-years. For reference, one light-year is equal to 9 trillion kilometers!
While communicating with them isn't likely to happen any time soon, it's not all for nothing, though. The authors note that knowing about their existence is important in determining Earth’s own lifespan, saying, “Alternatively, if we find that there are no active civilizations in our galaxy it is a bad sign for our own long-term existence.”
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