Aliens

An artist's rendering of the Earth and sun seen from space. Astronomers on Earth can detect other worlds when far away stars flicker as an orbiting planet passes in front of them, partly blocking our view. New research asks how many alien worlds might have been able to detect Earth in this way.

New Research

If Aliens Exist in These 1,700 Solar Systems, They Can Probably See Earth

Hypothetical alien astronomers orbiting these stars could have seen the sun’s light flicker as Earth passed in front of it

The Parkes Telescope in Australia

Astronomers Discover Mysterious Radio Signal From Proxima Centauri

Scientists searching for aliens are trying to understand the signal’s origins

The telescope collapsed ahead of its scheduled demolition.

Massive Arecibo Telescope Collapses in Puerto Rico

The radio telescope was once the largest in the world, and played a key role in many major astronomical discoveries over the last 50 years

A helicopter crew discovered this odd monolith in the middle of the Utah desert on November 18.

Cool Finds

A Mysterious Monolith in the Utah Desert Vanished Overnight

Theories regarding the 12-foot-tall metal structure's origins—and ultimate fate—abound

The moon at night, as seen from Germany

Why Astronomers Want to Build a SETI Observatory on the Moon

Researchers say the location would offer a quiet spot from which to hear a signal from an intelligent civilization

Venus, the second planet from the sun

In Clouds on Venus, New Potential for Microbial Life

Astronomers have detected a chemical in Venus’ atmosphere that signifies life on Earth. Could it mean the same on Venus?

A rock samples collected during a 2010 drilling expedition in the South Pacific that found microbes in the sea floor.

Microbes Living in Deep Sea Rocks Spawn More Hope for Life on Mars

Starved of resources, these hardy bacteria still eke out a living, suggesting life forms could survive in the harsh habitats on other planets

Jupiter's moon Europa may have the ingredients necessary for hosting life: liquid water, an energy source and organic compounds.

We’re Better Equipped to Find Extraterrestrial Life Now Than Ever Before

Astronomers have more places to look for signs of intelligent life and more advanced tools to find it

Scientists seeking extraterrestrial life in the universe (above: a radio observatory in New Mexico) seek the answer to what is called the Fermi paradox: “Where is everybody?”

If Aliens Existed Elsewhere in the Universe, How Would They Behave?

In a new offering from Smithsonian Books, James Trefil and Michael Summers explore the life forms that might exist on a dizzying array of exoplanets

The Green Bank Telescope pictured—and other radio telescopes like it—are listening for "technosignatures," or possible transmissions from intelligent life forms

New Research

In the Search for Aliens, We've Only Analyzed a Small Pool in the Cosmic Ocean

A new study estimates how much of outer space we've scoured for other life and finds we haven't exactly taken a deep dive

Stephen Hawking's memorial stone in Westminster Abbey.

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A Message From Stephen Hawking Is On Its Way to a Black Hole

After his ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey, a musical composition and "message of hope" were broadcast toward 1A 0620-00, the nearest black hole

New Research

Some of Earth's Deep Sea Microbes Could Survive on Saturn's Moon

A methane-producing archaea survived simulations of Enceladus' extreme conditions, hinting at the possibility of similar extraterrestrial life

Fragments of Famed ‘UFO’ Discovered in Archives of London Museum

Though experts deemed it a hoax, the 'Silpho Saucer' created a sensation when it was discovered in the 1950s

Reports of weird, wondrous, and worrying objects in the skies date to ancient times.

How UFO Reports Change With the Technology of the Times

Fears of Zeppelins, rockets and drones have replaced the "celestial wonders" of ancient times

The Arecibo telescope, used to detect the Fast Radio Bursts

New Research

New Clues to the Origins of the Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts From Space

New analysis suggests that the bursts originate near massive black holes or neutron stars

Nilgai antelope, like the cattle fever ticks they carry, are considered an invasive species in places like Texas.

Why We Should Rethink How We Talk About "Alien" Species

In a trend that echoes the U.S.-Mexico border debate, some say that calling non-native animals "foreigners" and "invaders" only worsens the problem

Artist's illustration of Tabby's Star, also known as KIC 8462852.

New Research

Dust, Not an Alien Megastructure, Likely Causes Strange Winks in Tabby’s Star Brightness

After extensive observations, researchers can now confidently say: It's not aliens

The rock from the Apex Chert in which the fossils were found

New Research

At 3.5 Billion Years Old, Are These the Oldest Fossils?

A new analysis of this decades-old find suggests that they were indeed once biological life—but not all are convinced

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Are Alien Microbes Clinging to the International Space Station? Probably Not

A report out of Russia claims extraterrestrial bacteria has been found on the space station, but there's plenty of room for doubt

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In Attempt to Contact Intelligent Life, Group Sends Musical Signal Toward Planet GJ 273b

Though the chances are slim, the team hopes this latest transmission is just the first of many