HUMANS might have the answer to one of life’s biggest questions, sooner than first thought.
According to a pair of US scientists, aliens could make contact with Earth in just six years.
Humans have used radio waves to communicate across Earth for more than a century.
In recent years, people have ramped up an effort use radio signals to communicate with potential life elsewhere in the universe.
This culminated in some of our most distant probes, like Nasa’s Voyager spacecraft.
The research team from the University of California, Berkeley, created a map of stars that could encounter Earth’s signals within the next century.
Probes at the edge of the solar system, such as Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons, were used to map out how signals might spread out when travelling through space.
These spacecraft have communicated with the Deep Station Network (DSN) radio antennas in order to download scientific data and telemetry data.
Radio signals spread out and become harder to detect as they travel through space, especially if they’ve come into contact with a cosmic object.
The researchers then used this law of physics to estimate how long it will take for DSN signals to reach nearby stars, and for alien life to return the message.
They found that alien life could return message as soon as 2029, according to their paper, which was published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
But other astronomers are sceptical.
“If a response were to be sent, our ability to detect it would depend on many factors,” says Macy Huston, an astronomer at Penn State not involved in the new study, told PopSci.
These factors include “how long or often we monitor the star for a response, and how long or often the return signal is transmitted.”