By Dan Falk
Are you there, aliens? It’s us, Earth. Astronomers have sent a radio message to a neighbouring star system – one of the closest known to contain a potentially habitable planet – and it’s nearby enough that we could receive a reply in less than 25 years.
“I think that’s an unlikely outcome, but it would be a welcome outcome,” said Douglas Vakoch, president of Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International. METI is an offshoot of the more familiar SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
The target star is GJ 273, also known as Luyten’s star, a red dwarf in the northern constellation of Canis Minor, just 12 light years away. In March of this year it was discovered to have two planets. One of them, known as GJ 273b, orbits within the star’s “habitable zone” and could potentially harbor liquid water, and perhaps life.
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