Most of the possible alien civilizations in the Milky Way may have already been destroyed, according to research presented by NASA and developed in partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Titled A Statistical Estimation of the Occurrence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy, the study by Jonatham Jiang and other researchers relied on modern astronomy and statistical modeling to map the death of intelligent beings in time and space in the galaxy.
When tracing this evolution over time, experts found that the peak index of the emergence of life occurred about 13,000 light years from the galactic center and 8 billion years after its formation.
Thus, there would be clues that other, younger civilizations could be grouped around this band, mainly due to the prevalence of sun-like stars in the region.
The work also indicated that the possible life sites in the galaxy would tend to a scenario of self-annihilation. In this context, a series of factors supposedly influencing development and the time required for its evolution under appropriate conditions were analyzed.
Possible reasons for the end
The causes and frequency by which civilizations would be exterminated are the most uncertain variables, and this regularity would be important in determining the capacity for extending life. In turn, climate change resulting from technological advances or wars may have acted as the main reasons for its demise.
However, for this explanation, the researchers did not rule out the impact of the exposure of the planets to radiation or the interruption of the evolution process due to asteroids or another type of natural catastrophe.
The results achieved bring an update to the famous equation developed by Frank Drake in 1961 and popularized by the physicist Carl Sagan in the Cosmos series. Using probabilistic data, the model estimates the number of extraterrestrial civilizations possibly set in the Milky Way.
“Since the time of Carl Sagan, there has been a lot of research. Especially since the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, we have a lot of knowledge about the densities [of gas and celestial bodies] in the Milky Way and rates of formation of stars and planets, as well as the rate of occurrence of supernova explosions. In fact, we now know some of the numbers that at the time of the famous Cosmos episode were still a mystery, ”said Jiang.