Endless Earths and Alien Megastructures

Artists Impression of Many Earths Credit NASA

Artists Impression of Many Earths
Credit NASA

It is one of the “oldest” story-lines in science fiction. A ship of intrepid space travelers discover the remains of an incredibly ancient civilization distributed throughout a region of space. Eventually the realization hits, they were the “first ones,” the founders who seeded life throughout the universe.

On occasion, Innerspace has suggested that perhaps the reason we have yet to detect signs of other civilizations via radio signals is that in a cosmically ironic twist, we in fact are the very race we keep writing about discovering. Then again, maybe something akin to Iheartsradio pops up on each budding civilization, inevitably leading to the abandonment of that medium altogether.

Adding to the evidence that the former is the case comes a new study which finds that Earth developed fairly early in the evolutionary time-frame of the universe, and most of the potential habitable planets which will ever develop are still random molecules of gas floating about the ether.

“Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to a new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won’t be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets – 92 percent – have yet to be born.”

The story appears on NASA.gov, and is based on a study published in the Oct 20th Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The abstract is here.

On the somewhat scarier side of the equation, another paper submitted to Monthly Notices also based on data from the Kepler Space Telescope analyzed extraordinary dips in stellar brightness around the star, KIC 8462852 which defy most conventional explanations.

Transit data for KIC 8462852 showing mysterious events. BOYAJIAN ET AL.

Transit data for KIC 8462852 showing mysterious events.
BOYAJIAN ET AL.

While a truly enormous cloud of passing comets disturbed by the pull of a nearby star is considered to be a leading natural explanation, the observation is unique enough as to raise speculation that something very different may be the case, specifically an engineered structure on a scale which boggles the mind and could only be created by an alien civilization far in advance of our own. That possibility is covered in an article in The Atlantic which quotes astronomer Jason Wright, from Penn State University as saying  “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Wright is now working with study author, Tabetha Boyajian, and the SETI Institute, which has trained its array of dishes at KIC 8462852 in hopes of picking up the first ever signals which would confirm the presence of an alien civilization.

 

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