Astrophysicist told when humanity will find extraterrestrial life

Sascha Quantz, an astrophysicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, said that humans will discover extraterrestrial life within the next 25 years.

According to the scientist, more than 5,000 exoplanets are already known to man, dozens of which are likely to have life. At the same time, science does not stand still, and astronomers daily find new objects far beyond our solar system.

Researchers have to discover many more exoplanets to find the very “alien Earth” where there are living beings. According to scientists, there are more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and each has at least one companion planet. Many of them are located at the same distance from their stars as the Earth is from the Sun, so there may well be liquid water – one of the main conditions for life.

It is still difficult to say whether such planets have a habitable atmosphere, but the latest technology, the crown of which has already become the James Webb telescope, will soon allow answering this question.

True, one such telescope is not enough – the device is sharpened to search for the oldest stars, and with its help it is difficult to detect Earth-like planets. To fill this shortcoming, scientists are already developing the METIS mid-infrared spectrograph, which will become part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

Project of the world’s largest telescope ELT. Image: ESO

The creation of the ELT system is happening right now in Chile, the project will be completed by the end of the 2020s. The ELT will be equipped with a segment mirror with a diameter of 39.3 m, consisting of 798 hexagonal parts. The main purpose of the telescope is to detect terrestrial planets.

Also, astrophysicist Quantz noted another promising program to search for life outside the solar system, called LIFE (Large Interferometer for Exoplanets). This is a space telescope-interferometer that will study distant exoplanets and search for molecules that alien organisms could produce.

Visualization of the LIFE interferometer. Image: Astronomy & Astrophysics

The astrophysicist believes that it is necessary to obtain a detailed picture of chemical reactions and external conditions that best fit the search criteria for life in space. This will give scientists the opportunity to choose the most priority areas for in-depth research.

LIFE is still at an early stage of development, but it is likely that it will be approved, built and put into operation in the astrophysicist’s designated 25 years.

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