Researchers analyzed scans of 5,600 nearby stars throughout the Milky Way in search of signs of laser beams sent by extraterrestrial civilizations, and found none. While this study does not provide evidence for alien life, it cannot rule it out.

The stars examined were estimated to host around 2,000 planets similar to Earth in size and temperature that could, theoretically, support alien lifeforms. However, apparently none of these lifeforms are — as the researchers wrote in their submission — “beaming optical lasers toward us.”

Of course, a lack of evidence does not disprove the existence of alien life. It’s possible that otherworldly civilizations are not yet advanced enough to use lasers. Or it could be that they have lasers, but are not using that particular tool to try and interact with other worlds — which is, by the way, the boat humans here on Earth are in.

The researchers note that a bigger study of interstellar laser signals will be performed by the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, which is hailed as the largest scientific research program ever aimed at finding evidence of alien civilizations. The 10-year study will examine 1 million of the closest stars in the Milky Way— including star types that were overlooked in the Berkeley study, like brown dwarfs.

Even if this study does not yield proof of extraterrestrial life, there are other signs we can look for besides lasers. Beyond that, there’s always the Andromeda galaxy.

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