A new study suggests that alien-hunting scientists should consider searching for alien cities, rather than hoping to find signs of alien life throughout the universe.
The study, presented by Avi Loeb from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Edwin Turner from the Princeton University, notes that current technologies could identify marks of an alien civilization, noting that aliens are likely to use many of the same technologies as humans. The study notes that aliens would use Earth-like technologies and that intelligent lifeforms are likely to have artificial illumination.
“Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources,” Loeb, who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, said in a statement Friday. “And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe.”
“This is reasonable because any intelligent life that evolved in the light from its nearest star is likely to have artificial illumination that switches on during the hours of darkness,” the statement added.
The pair of scientists calculated that existing telescopes can see a city the size of Tokyo, if it were located on an asteroid or a comet at a distance of nearly 50 Astronomical units from here. Both Mr. Loeb and Mr. Turner suggest searching for potential cities, saying astronomers should direct telescopes towards potential planets harboring life when it is in a night phase. The scientific duo say this would assist in distinguishing artificial light from that of the sun.
Mr. Loeb admits that finding technologically advanced aliens in the outer regions of our own solar system is a long shot, because they would be far from the life-giving glow of the sun. Still, he notes that astronomers should continue the search for additional intelligent life.
“Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe,” Mr. Loeb said.
The study was submitted to the scientific journal Astrobiology.