Midnight In The Desert — exoplanets

'Superflares' may make it hard for life to thrive on Earth's nearest exoplanet

Posted by K R on

'Superflares' may make it hard for life to thrive on Earth's nearest exoplanet

The nearest exoplanet to Earth may get hit hard by damaging ultraviolet radiation, making it tough for life to survive there, a new study suggests. That planet, the roughly Earth-mass Proxima b, circles the small, dim star Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.2 light-years from Earth. And Proxima b orbits in its host's star "habitable zone" — the just-right range of distances where liquid water could theoretically exist on a world's surface. But there's a lot more to habitability than just being in the habitable zone, as the new study indicates. In it, a team of researchers analyzing observations by...

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The Drake Equation Is Broken; Here's How To Fix It

Posted by K R on

The Drake Equation Is Broken; Here's How To Fix It

In 1961, scientist Frank Drake wrote down a simple-looking equation for estimating the number of active, technologically-advanced, communicating civilizations in the Milky Way. From first principles, there was no good way to simply estimate a number, but Drake had the brilliant idea of writing down a large number of parameters that could be estimated, which you would then multiply together. If your numbers were accurate, you'd arrive at an accurate figure for the number of technologically advanced civilizations that humanity could communicate with, within our own galaxy, at any given moment. It's a brilliant idea in concept, but one that's...

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Are Alien Worlds in TRAPPIST-1 More Habitable Than Thought?

Posted by K R on

Are Alien Worlds in TRAPPIST-1 More Habitable Than Thought?

One of the most captivating star systems beyond the solar system is in our galactic backyard. It may be a common red dwarf star, but the exoplanets it possesses are anything but ordinary. In fact, new observations have shown that the alien worlds of TRAPPIST-1 may be very special indeed. Located 40 light-years from Earth, TRAPPIST-1 is a mini version of our solar system. Orbiting the ultracool red dwarf are at least seven known small exoplanets of Earthlike dimensions, three of which orbit their star in the habitable zone. That's the area around a star at which it's neither too...

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Are Alien Civilizations Technologically Advanced?

Posted by K R on

Are Alien Civilizations Technologically Advanced?

As we discover numerous habitable planets around other stars in the Milky Way galaxy, including the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, one cannot help but wonder why we have not yet detected evidence for an alien civilization. As the physicist Enrico Fermi asked, “Where is everybody?” Even though the first interstellar object to be discovered in the solar system, 'Oumuamua, had an unusually elongated shape as might be expected from an alien probe, it does not appear to maneuver and is radio-quiet below the level of a single cell phone. True, a signal from an alien civilization might be subtle or...

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