A new computer simulation shows that a technologically advanced civilization, even when using slow ships, can still colonize an entire galaxy in a modest amount of time. The finding presents a possible model for interstellar migration and a sharpened sense of where we might find alien intelligence.
Space, we are told time and time again, is huge, and that’s why we have yet to see signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. For sure, the distances between stars are vast, but it’s important to remember that the universe is also very, very old. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, in terms of extremes, the Milky Way galaxy is more ancient than it is huge, if that makes sense.
We present a video of a simulation showing the expansion front of a technological species settling a Milky Way-like galaxy, created using the model described in Carroll-Nellenback et al. It illustrates how even very conservative rates of settlement ship launches and ship ranges can quickly lead to a galaxy endemic with technology, and how the rotational and peculiar motions of stars contributes to the expansion. This video confirms and validates previous work showing that the centers of galaxies are promising search directions for SETI.