As space exploration missions advance and the search for extraterrestrial life continues, recent research suggests that our Milky Way galaxy may contain extraterrestrial civilizations. However, there is a strong possibility that most of them are already dead.
The research was conducted by the California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Santiago High School, and published this month. Scientists used an expanded version of the famous Drake equation, which was used to determine the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence in our galaxy. The Drake equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake trying to estimate the number of living and communicative alien civilizations in the Milky Way. The equation takes into account factors such as the rate at which stars are formed, the number of planets with them, and a fraction of the planets that evolve life. The Drake equation was not originally intended to provide an exact number, but rather to stimulate debate about how many alien civilizations exist.
In the most recent study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, researchers examined various factors that could most likely lead to a habitable environment and found that potential extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) appeared in our galaxy about 8 billion years later could be educated. Research predicts that some of these civilizations could have been 13,000 light years from the galactic center, about 12,000 light years closer than Earth, where humans are believed to have originated 13.5 billion years after the Milky Way was formed.
To draw their conclusions, the scientists also considered factors typically overlooked, such as the process of abiogenesis, the process of which organic molecules are created by forces other than living organisms, different evolutionary time scales, and possible self-annihilation to study the growing propensity for ETI.
The study also took into account factors that these civilizations may have ended, such as radiation exposure, a sudden pause in evolution, and the EIT’s tendency to self-destruct through phenomena such as climate change, technological advancement, or war. This also leads to the fact that existing alien civilizations are most likely young, as self-annihilation typically occurs after a long period of time.
The research mentioned that the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is directly related to habitability and a galactic habitable zone (GHZ). Potential life is most likely to form on a habitable planet. To derive the results, the researchers also developed a Lagrange model using Monte Carlo techniques to accurately simulate every Earth-like planet in the Milky Way. The paper explained the need to conduct this research and mentioned that missions such as Finding the ETI (SETI) have been severely constrained by current technology and the lack of quantitative understanding of intelligent life at the galactic level, as well as the lack of life discoveries responses elsewhere have remained controversial.