We were never alone! A new study suggests there could be over 30 intelligent, communicating alien civilizations in our galaxy!
Researchers from the University of Nottingham believe there may be 36 intelligent civilizations in our Milky Way.
The study builds on previous estimates that placed the figure on a rather broad scale, between zero and billions.
During the study, researchers assumed life develops elsewhere in a similar way as to how it does on Earth.
According to researchers, new species would need to develop in metal-rich environments in the same way humans have done. This is due to the metal present in the Sun.
Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham said in a statement:
"There should be at least a few dozen active civilizations in our Galaxy under the assumption that it takes 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, as on Earth."
"The idea is looking at evolution but on a cosmic scale. We call this calculation the Astrobiological Copernican Limit."
Our Galaxy (Milky Way Galaxy)
As a point of reference, there are about 250 billion stars in our galaxy and roughly 10 planets per star.
Study lead author Tom Westby, also of the University of Nottingham, explains:
"The classic method for estimating the number of intelligent civilizations relies on making guesses of values relating to life, whereby opinions about such matters vary quite substantially."
"Our new study simplifies these assumptions using new data. [It gives] us a solid estimate of the number of civilizations in our galaxy."
The number of civilizations largely depends on how long they can send out signals of their existence into space.
Our planet currently sits at around the 100-year mark. This would suggest there are at least another 36 civilizations existing concurrently throughout the galaxy.
The problem is that the average distance between these civilizations would be tens of thousands of light-years. Therefore, it's nearly impossible for any of them to communicate with the other.
The New Study Also Sheds Light On Our Own Fate
It suggests that our prospects for long-term survival are lower than we previously thought.
Professor Conselice said:
"Our new research suggests that searches for extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations not only reveals the existence of how life forms but also gives us clues for how long our own civilization will last."
That's because, if intelligent life is universal, it should exist for more than a few hundred years.
However, if it's not, it'd suggest intelligent life has a lifespan, which is a bad sign for our long-term existence.
This isn't the only recent study to imply the development of intelligent life in the galaxy.
According to Independent, scientists recently found a potentially habitable planet called 'Proxima b,' approximately 4.2 light-years from the Sun.