For centuries, Earthlings have gazed at the heavens and wondered: is anybody out there? But as humans searched for little green men, they may have been watching us all along.
In new research, astronomers have drawn up a shortlist of nearby star systems where inquisitive inhabitants would be well placed to spot life on Earth. They identified 1,715 star systems in our cosmic backyard where aliens could have discovered Earth in the past 5,000 years by watching it “transit” across the face of the sun.
Among those in the right position to observe an Earth transit, 46 star systems are close enough for their planets to intercept a clear signal of human existence - the radio and TV broadcasts which started about 100 years ago.
The researchers estimate that 29 potentially habitable planets are well positioned to witness an Earth transit, and eavesdrop on human radio and television transmissions, allowing any observers to infer perhaps a modicum of intelligence. Whether the broadcasts would compel an advanced civilisation to make contact is a moot point.
The findings come as the US government prepares to publish a hotly anticipated report on UFOs. The report from the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, which was set up to gain insights into the nature and origins of unknown aircraft, is not expected to reveal evidence of alien antics, or rule it out.