Chinese scientists have studied a series of parameters to estimate how many terrestrial planets could harbor life and how many intelligent civilizations could inhabit the Milky Way: based on this data, they estimated that humanity will have to wait around 400,000 years to establish contact with an alien civilization.
In a new study recently published in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers Wenjie Song and He Gao, both from the Department of Astronomy at Beijing Normal University in China, asked a question that is as obvious as it is difficult to answer: how long will we have? what to wait for confirm the existence of a alien civilization? According to experts, humanity will have to wait 400,000 years to meet its galactic brothers.
A complex perspective
Within the framework of a global reality that threatens our own survival as a species, thinking of a period of 4,000 centuries it turns out to be quite complex. However, that seems to be the time that human beings will have to wait to confirm the existence of other intelligent civilizations and, once and for all, answer the question about whether or not we are accompanied in a Universe that seems as enigmatic to us as it is. boundless.
In addition, our existence is a tiny fraction of time on a cosmic scale: we have been on Earth for a couple of hundred thousand years and we discovered agriculture about 12,000 years ago. As for our relationship with the rest of the Universe, we set foot on our natural satellite just over 50 years ago. In that context, 400,000 years seems like a almost inconceivable amount of time from our perspective.
According to an article published in Universe Today, scientists began their work by analyzing the so-called Drake equation, which attempts to estimate how many intelligent civilizations could exist in our galaxy and would be capable of detectable radio emissions. For Chinese researchers, although most studies on this problem are based on this equation, the drawback of this method is that it is uncertain and unpredictable to quantify the probability that life could appear on a suitable planet, in addition to eventually becoming an advanced communicating civilization.
From 2,000 to 400,000 years
Faced with this, the researchers carried out a set of simulations until reaching their final conclusions, always bearing in mind that the data we have about the cosmos are insufficient to reach a definitive result. On the one hand, they studied the stage of evolution of a host star that would be required for an intelligent civilization to develop. In another order, they analyzed the percentage of terrestrial planets that they would be capable of hosting an alien civilization.
By comparing both parameters, they estimated an optimistic and a pessimistic scenario about the number of intelligent civilizations that exist or existed in the Milky Way: the number varies from 42,000 in the optimistic scenario to 111 in the pessimistic. According to these figures, they finally concluded that the human being should wait around 400,000 years to really communicate with any of these civilizations, taking the pessimistic scenario as an indicator. If the optimistic scenario were given, the meeting could take place in just over 2,000 years.
It is worth noting, however, that the researchers indicated that it is still impossible to scientifically determine these types of variables, based on the available data and tools. At the moment it is more of a thought experiment: in the future, technological advances promise broaden the human gaze around the cosmos and, in this way, have more rigorous information about possible encounters with other intelligent civilizations.
The Number of Possible CETIs within Our Galaxy and the Communication Probability among These CETIs. Wenjie Song and He Gao. The Astrophysical Journal (2022). DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ac561d