On the abundance of extraterrestrial life after the Kepler mission
The data recently accumulated by the Kepler mission have demonstrated that small planets are quite common and that a significant fraction of all stars may have an Earth-like planet within their Habitable Zone. These results are combined with a Drake-equation formalism to derive the space density of biotic planets as a function of the relatively modest uncertainty in the astronomical data and of the (yet unknown) probability for the evolution of biotic life, Fb. I suggest that Fb may be estimated by future spectral observations of exoplanet biomarkers. If Fb is in the range 0.001 -- 1 then a biotic planet may be expected within 10 -- 100 light years from Earth. Extending the biotic results to advanced life I derive expressions for the distance to putative civilizations in terms of two additional Drake parameters - the probability for evolution of a civilization, Fc, and its average longevity. For instance, assuming optimistic probability values (Fb Fc 1) and a broadcasting longevity of a few thousand years, the likely distance to the nearest civilizations detectable by SETI is of the order of a few thousand light years. The probability of detecting intelligent signals with present and future radio telescopes is calculated as a function of the Drake parameters. Finally, I describe how the detection of intelligent signals would constrain the Drake parameters.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Updating the Drake Equation Based on Kepler
Posted by Will Baird at 12:00 PM
Labels: drake equation, kepler, life
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