Are we alone?
This question has plagued humanity since time immemorial. And yet, we still don’t have a conclusive answer. Despite our incredible technological advancements, we have never received a credible radio signal or even the slightest trace of extraterrestrial life beyond Earth.
The current hunt for extraterrestrial life includes: the Research Institute for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which has scoured the skies for radio signals from intelligent beings since its founding in 1984; the Kepler space telescope, which observed more than 500,000 stars during its mission, confirming more than 2,500 exoplanets; and more recently, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which just took its first direct image of an exoplanet.
Perhaps the most enticing potential signal of an extraterrestrial civilization is the famous Wow! Signal. This very brief, but very intense radio signal was detected by the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University on August 15, 1977, and it lasted 1 minute and 12 seconds. The signal was so intriguing that astronomer Jerry Ehman excitedly wrote the word “Wow!” on printing data.
Most now agree that the Wow! The signal is unlikely to come from extraterrestrials. But in a recent study from May 2022 published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, researchers have identified a possible source of the Wow! Signal: A Sun-like star just over 1,800 light-years from Earth.
Yet the question remains: Are we alone?
“The only correct answer to this question [for now] it’s that we don’t know,” says Manasvi Lingam, an astrobiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology. Astronomy.
“That said,” he adds, “I’m hopeful that extraterrestrial life exists, given the number of potentially habitable worlds and the exciting research going on into the origins of life.”
How likely are we to find life elsewhere in the universe?
Two of the most iconic ideas related to the possibility that technological civilizations exist elsewhere in the universe are the Fermi Paradox and the Drake Equation, which were formulated by Enrico Fermi and Frank Drake respectively.