Inspired by the "Pale Blue Dot" photo, researchers are posing an interesting question: could other planets be looking at us just like we're looking at them? A study of Earth's "solar neighborhood" finds over 1,000 solar systems have the perfect angle to view our planet.
Study co-author Lisa Kaltenegger says their list focuses on main-sequence stars similar to the sun. These solar systems may contains exoplanets, Earth-like worlds sitting in the habitable zone for life. All of the prospective systems are within 300 million light-years of Earth, close enough to see our world's chemical traces.
"Let's reverse the viewpoint to that of other stars and ask from which vantage point other observers could find Earth as a transiting planet," says Kaltenegger, the director of Cornell's Carl Sagan Institute, in a university release.
"If observers were out there searching, they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in the atmosphere of our Pale Blue Dot… and we can even see some of the brightest of these stars in our night sky without binoculars or telescopes."