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N* The amount of stars in our galaxy. Best current estimates are 300 billion ± 100 billion.
fp the fraction of those stars that have planets.
ne the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets.
fl the fraction of the planets that can potentially support life, that actually go on to develop life at some point.
fi the fraction planets that develop life, that go on to develop intelligent life.
fc the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology which releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
fL The fraction of time that such a civilization broadcasts signals, as compared to the age of the planet.
The Drake equation is an equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy .
The Drake equation states that:
N = N* · fp · ne · fl · fi · fc · fL
N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible.
In this visualization, the calculated value for N is used to randomly distribute civilizations into our galaxy.
The distance to the closest civilization is returned, with more options to gather statistics for your calculated value of N. ← Enter values into the menu on the left to begin the visualization.
Click below to autofill the values with my estimates.
Note: Distance calculations include a third dimension, representing an average 'height' of 1000 light years for our galaxy. This dimension is not represented graphically (example: a simulation is ran which returns the distance to the closest civilization which is NOT within our radio bubble, but the zoomed in image shows a civilization on our radio bubble. That civilization is either above or below our radio bubble )
Represents the distance to the closest civilization for a given value of N.
Represents the average of the distances to the closest civilization, displayed only if there is more than one data point for a given value of N.