Experts say the work not only offers insights into the chances of life beyond Earth but could shed light on our own future and place in the cosmos.
“I think it is extremely important and exciting because for the first time we really have an estimate for this number of active intelligent, communicating civilizations that we potentially could contact and find out there is other life in the universe – something that has been a question for thousands of years and is still not answered,” said Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham and a co-author of the research.
In 1961 the astronomer Frank Drake proposed what became known as the Drake equation, setting out seven factors that would need to be known to come up with an estimate for the number of intelligent civilizations out there. These factors ranged from the the average number of stars that form each year in the galaxy through to the timespan over which a civilization would be expected to be sending out detectable signals.
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