Scientists say aliens could be watching us from nine planets beyond our solar system

Aliens on at least nine planets beyond the solar system would be ideally placed to detect and observe the Earth, scientists have shown.

The research has echoes of HG Wells's classic sci-fi novel War Of The Worlds in which the author writes about "intellects vast cool and unsympathetic" watching the human race.

There is no evidence of Martians or any other extraterrestrials planning to invade the Earth but the new research suggests we are not well hidden from aliens should they be out there.

The scientists - one of whom is coincidentally named Robert Wells - identified parts of the sky from where various planets in our solar system could be seen passing in front of the sun as they undertake so called "transits".

They calculated that the smaller rocky planets including Earth would be far more easy to spot than the gas and ice giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune that are further from the sun.

The scientists identified parts of the sky from where various planets in our solar system could be seen passing in front of the sun as they undertake so called "transits".

Mr Wells, from Queen's University Belfast, said: "Larger planets would naturally block out more light as they pass in front of their star. However the more important factor is actually how close the planet is to its parent star. Since the terrestrial planets are much closer to the sun than the gas giants, they'll be more likely to be seen in transit."

Of the thousands of known exoplanets, the team identified 68 worlds where observers would see one or more planets in our solar system transiting the sun.

Each line represents where one of the planets could be seen to transit, with the blue line representing Earth.

Nine of these planets were "ideally" placed to observe transits of the Earth, although none of them are thought to be capable of hosting Earth-type life.

The research is published in the journal Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society.

More in this Section

These fake Pringles are horrifying and fascinating at once

Lego reveal Skellig Michael set to tie in with 'The Last Jedi'

Dread growing old? Here’s how to age happily and see getting older in a whole new light

This police dog doing press-ups will make you want to go to the gym


Today's Stories

Questions still need to be answered in Maurice McCabe email controversy

Mixed reaction to State’s €30m loan to An Post

Nursing initiative to boost services

Golden rules for online shopping safety

Lifestyle

Toy story: 10 toys guaranteed to bring out the kid in all of us

GameTech: Star Wars Battlefront II: Chance to win Loot Skywalker

Military top brass: Meet the conductor of the army’s Southern Brigade band

Album review: Experience counts on U2’s return to form

More From The Irish Examiner