Exploring the Galaxy using space probes

Research paper by Rasmus Bjoerk

Indexed on: 23 Apr '07Published on: 23 Apr '07Published in: Astrophysics


This paper investigates the possible use of space probes to explore the Milky Way, as a means both of finding life elsewhere in the Galaxy and as finding an answer to the Fermi paradox. I simulate exploration of the Galaxy by first examining how long time it takes a given number of space probes to explore 40,000 stars in a box from -300 to 300 pc above the Galactic thin disk, as a function of Galactic radius. I then model the Galaxy to consist of $\sim{}260,000$ of these 40,000 stellar systems all located in a defined Galactic Habitable Zone and show how long time it takes to explore this zone. The result is that with 8 probes, each with 8 subprobes $\sim{}4%$ of the Galaxy can be explored in $2.92\cdot{}10^{8}$ years. Increasing the number of probes to 200, still with 8 subprobes each, reduces the exploration time to $1.52\cdot{}10^{7}$ years.