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Alien life may have existed in our galaxy for more than 10 billion years according to new research.
Astronomers from the University of Birmingham have found a star—dubbed Kepler-444—which is host to planets that are almost as old as our galaxy the Milky Way, and twice the age of our solar system.
Our galaxy is believed to be around 13.2 billion years old, and planets eventually started forming some 11 billion years ago.
If some of these Ancient Alien planets had the ability to host life, it means that alien life forms may have existed long before life on Earth started.
Located about 117 light-years from our planet in the constellation Cygnus. All of the planets circling Kepler 444 are the size of Venus or perhaps smaller. Experts know the planets are rocky and complete an orbit around their host star in ten days.
Kepler-444 is a bit cooler than our sun and is around 25 percent smaller.
This means that they are too warm to support life as we know it, but the fact that they exist suggests that other ancient planetary systems throughout the cosmos may have been, or still are hospitable.
Lead author of the study Tiago Campante, of the University of Birmingham in England, said in a statement:
“We now know that Earth-sized planets have appeared throughout most parts of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year history, which could present scope for the existence of ancient life forms in the galaxy.”
What does this mean? Well if you look at things from another perspective, our planet and everything else inside of our solar system developed some 4.6 billion years ago.
With the help of data gathered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers were able to pick up any changes in brightness caused by sound waves within the star affecting its temperature and luminosity. By analyzing these natural oscillations, experts were able to determine the age of Kepler-444, as well as its mass and age.
Co-Author of the study, Daniel Huber of the University of Sydney in Australia, said: “When asteroseismology emerged about two decades ago, we could only use it on the sun and a few bright stars, but thanks to the Kepler space telescope, we can now apply the technique to thousands of stars.”
“Asteroseismology allows us to measure the radius of Kepler-444 precisely and therefore the measurements of its planets,” he added.
“For the smallest planet in the Kepler-444 system, which is slightly larger than Mercury, we estimated its size with an uncertainty of only 100 kilometers [62 miles].”
The discovery of these ancient alien worlds also means that during a time when the universe was composed mainly out of hydrogen and helium these five planets formed somehow with ingredients which were abundant at that time.
Astronomers believe this is quite remarkable and means that we have more to learn about the formation of the universe, solar systems, planets, and life.