No one can say for sure whether there are extraterrestrial civilizations, but a new study suggests that the Milky Way is full of them, even though many may have died.
The research, which can be read at the arXiv archive, was written by experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and Santiago High School in Corona, California. 8 billion years after the Milky Way was formed.
“Since we cannot assume a low probability of destruction, it is possible that intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy is still too young to be observed by us,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Therefore, our findings may suggest that intelligent life may be common in the galaxy but still young, supporting the optimistic aspect of the pursuit of [search for extraterrestrial intelligence]. “
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The experts also looked at where other civilizations might live in the universe, noting that they are likely to live on planets in the galactic habitable zone, places in the galaxy where there is an abundance of metals. This could be about 13,000 light-years from the galactic center, the scientists noted.
In comparison, the solar system and the Earth are approx. 25,000 light-years from the galactic center. A light year that measures distance in space is about 6 trillion miles.
However, the researchers also noted the potential for self-destruction in galactic intelligent life to be “very influential”, suggesting that any intelligent life may have already destroyed itself.
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“[I]f intelligent life is likely to destroy itself, it is not surprising that there is little or no intelligent life elsewhere, ”the researchers added.
Although there is no “explicit” evidence that intelligent life will eventually obliterate itself, researchers cited research dating back to the 1960s, in which advances in science and technology “will inevitably lead to complete destruction and biological degeneration. . ”
Some potential scenarios put forward by scientists include war, climate change and the development of biotechnology.
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To date, more than 4,500 exoplanets have been discovered, of which only a small proportion are thought to have the properties to contain life. A study published in November suggested that the galaxy may actually contain 300 million planets capable of supporting life.