Past, Present And Future Stars That Can See Earth As A Transiting Exoplanet

Stars that can see Earth transit since early human civilization: The color-magnitude diagram of the Gaia Catalogue of Nearby Stars (black) limited to sources with RUWE<1.4, photometric signal to noise (in Gaia G and GRP)>100, and parallax uncertainties better than 5%. Overplotted are the 2,034 sources that cross the ETZ in the time interval of +/-5,000years (dark red five-point stars have RUWE<1.4, grey filled circles RUWE>1.4). MG is Gaia magnitude. Data at:

In the search for life in the cosmos, transiting exoplanets are currently our best targets. In the search for life in the cosmos, transiting exoplanets are currently our best targets. With thousands already detected, our search is entering a new era of discovery with upcoming large telescopes that will look for signs of life in the atmospheres of transiting worlds.

However, the universe is dynamic, and which stars in the solar neighborhood have a vantage point to see Earth as a transiting planet and can identify its vibrant biosphere since early human civilizations are unknown.

Here we show that 1,715 stars within 326 light-years are in the right position to have spotted life on a transiting Earth since early human civilization, with an additional 319 stars entering this special vantage point in the next 5,000 years. Among the stars are 7 known exoplanet hosts that hold the vantage point to see Earth transit, including Ross-128, which saw Earth transit in the past, Teegarden's Star, and Trappist-1, which will start to see Earth transit in 29 and 1,642 years, respectively. We found that human-made radio waves have swept over 75 of the closest stars on our list already.

L. Kaltenegger, J. K. Faherty

Comments: 5 pages, Nature, volume 594, pages 505 to 507, 2021
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03596-y
Cite as: arXiv:2107.07936 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2107.07936v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Lisa Kaltenegger
[v1] Fri, 16 Jul 2021 14:51:17 UTC (2,716 KB)

Please follow Astrobiology on Twitter.

  • submit to reddit