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Quiet Neighbor

HIP 3765 is pretty average. The yellow-orange star is about three-quarters the size and mass of the Sun, and billions of years older.

It does have one distinction, though. It lines up in such a way that any astronomers in the system could see Earth pass across the face of the Sun. From that, they could determine that Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone” — the distance from the Sun where conditions are best suited for life. And if the folks there were outgoing, they might beam greetings our way — a “beacon” for our radio telescopes to hear.

But a study released a few months ago found that HIP 3765 is quiet. Three scans of the system found no evidence of such a beacon, or any other signal.

The study was conducted by Sofia Sheikh, a graduate student at Penn State, as part of Breakthrough Listen — the largest effort to find other civilizations to date.

This part of the project used a radio telescope in West Virginia to scan 20 stars. All of them could see Earth crossing the Sun, giving their residents a reason to try to contact us. HIP 3765 was the closest of them, at about 25 light-years. All of the stars remained silent, though, with no interstellar “howdys” beamed our way.

HIP 3765 is the only one of the stars that’s visible to the unaided eye. It’s in Pisces, the fishes, which is swimming into the early morning sky. The star is low in the east at first light, but you’ll need a starchart to pick it out.


Script by Damond Benningfield

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