If there were aliens sitting on at least nine exoplanets in other solar systems, they would be ideally placed to spy on what we’re doing on Earth, a new study has found.
Researchers identified parts of the distant sky from where various planets in our solar system could be seen to pass in front of the sun – so-called ‘transit zones’.
In addition to this, the team estimate there should be approximately ten (currently undiscovered) worlds which are favourably located to detect the Earth and could sustain life as we know it.
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WHAT ARE ‘TRANSIT ZONES’?
To look for worlds where civilisations would have the best chance of spotting our Solar System, the astronomers looked for parts of the sky from which more than one planet could be seen crossing the face of the Sun.
These are called ‘transit zones’ and they allow astronomers to see light from the host star dim slightly at regular intervals every time the planet passes between us and the distant star.
Of the thousands of known exoplanets, the team identified sixty-eight worlds where observers would see one or more of the planets in our Solar System using methods that are available on Earth.
Nine of these planets are ideally placed to observe transits of Earth, although none of the worlds are deemed to be habitable.
The team’s plans for future work include targeting these transit zones to search for exoplanets, hopefully finding some which could be habitable.
Thanks to facilities and missions such as SuperWASP and Kepler, we have now discovered thousands of planets orbiting stars other than our sun, worlds known as ‘exoplanets’.
The vast majority of these are found when the planets cross in front of their host stars in what are known as ‘transits’.
These allow astronomers to see light from the host star dim slightly at regular intervals every time the planet passes between us and the distant star.