Depending on how you feel about extra terrestrials, either your greatest fear or hope may soon be confirmed. Astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK (which, by the way, is the most English name for anything ever) have studied 6,000 observations of the Tau Ceti star and found that there may be as many as five planets orbiting it, which can only mean one thing: aliens!
Some background: Tau Ceti is the closest single star outside of our solar system that has a temperature and brightness equivalent to our sun. At 12 lightyears away from here, the star is visible to the naked eye. The astronomers' study reports that Tau Ceti's motion has gone through small changes in space, indicating that it may be responding to gravitational pulls from the aforementioned five planets.
Now, three of those planets — creatively named b, c and d — are almost certainly too close to Tau Ceti and thus too hot to harbor life. Planet e, though, is the one that is roughly the right distance away from the star to support livable temperatures, water, and — gasp! — LIFE (not the magazine, though that, too). That said, residents of Planet e (called "e-humans," which is a term I just made up) would experience a year that lasts just 168 days which means that, ew, everyone there is super old. Also, Tau Ceti is twice as old as the sun, meaning e-humans and other lifeforms on Planet e could be far more advanced than us normal humans.
Of course, none of this is confirmed, or even close to being confirmed, so 25 Best E-Human Reactions to Being Discovered By Earth is a blog post that will just have to wait. Astronomers that have reviewed the original study think that there's a good chance that the changes in Tau Ceti's motions may be caused by something unrelated to any potential gravitational pulls from the supposed planets. It may take at least 10 years before the findings can be confirmed.
But, that's no fun. Hello, e-humans. This is Earth I. Hope you guys haven't invented guns yet.
[via Science magazine, image via Getty]