Earth through the looking glass: how frequently are we detected by other civilizations through photometric microlensing?
Microlensing is proving to be one of the best techniques to detect distant, low-mass planets around the most common stars in the Galaxy. In principle, Earth's microlensing signal could offer the chance for other technological civilizations to find the Earth across Galactic distances. We consider the photometric microlensing signal of Earth to other potential technological civilizations and dub the regions of our Galaxy from which Earth's photometric microlensing signal is most readily observable as the 'Earth microlensing zone' (EMZ). The EMZ can be thought of as the microlensing analogue of the Earth Transit Zone (ETZ) from where observers see Earth transit the Sun. Just as for the ETZ, the EMZ could represent a game-theoretic Schelling point for targeted searches for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). To compute the EMZ, we use the Gaia DR2 catalogue with magnitude G < 20 to generate Earth microlensing probability and detection rate maps to other observers. While our Solar system is a multiplanet system, we show that Earth's photometric microlensing signature is almost always well approximated by a binary lens assumption. We then show that the Earth is in fact well hidden to observers with technology comparable to our own. Specifically, even if observers are located around every Gaia DR2 star with G < 20, we expect photometric microlensing signatures from the Earth to be observable on average only tens per year by any of them. In addition, the EMZs overlap with the ETZ near the Galactic Centres which could be the main areas for future SETI searches.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- October 2022
- gravitational lensing: micro;
- planets and satellites: general;
- stars: statistics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 15 pages, 12 figures, 3 tables