I was reading an article by John A. Johnson in the latest Sky & Telescope (which suggests something about my eclectic interests) and was struck by his opening comments. He suggested that an alien astronomer searching for Jupiter-like planets would not be inclined to look at our solar system. And, he mentioned that if you were searching for small, rocky planets, then you would be more likely to find those orbiting dwarf stars.
What has this to do with us, you might ask.
Glad you did. See, back in the 1970s Marjorie Fish, in attempting to find the star system from which the abductors of Barney and Betty Hill originated, made a model of our section of the galaxy. She assumed, and I’m not sure that it was a bad assumption at that time, that those aliens’ home world would be close to us, galactically speaking. They probably didn’t come from a world across the galaxy, though when we begin to speak of interstellar flight, we really have nothing on which to base our assumptions. Once you have solved the problems of interstellar travel, the distances, however great, might not mean all that much. We just don’t know.
But I digress...
When Fish put together her model, she ignored the red dwarf stars because there were so many of them in the vicinity of Earth and they probably didn’t have anything interesting going on around them anyway. Astronomic thinking at that time suggested that dwarf stars wouldn’t have planetary systems. We now know there are planets circling many of these stars.
What all this means, simply, is that the Fish model, and the conclusion that some of the aliens originate from Zeta I and Zeta II Reticuli has been superceded by better information. The evidence that suggested this is no longer accurate. Fish needed to include those dwarf stars in her models.
Again, this isn’t a criticism of the work done by Fish. At the time she constructed her models and did her research, she had the best information available. In today’s world we know that some of her basic assumptions were wrong.
And I haven’t even mentioned that the newest star catalogs have revised the distances to some of the stars that she did use and that earlier information has been found to be inaccurate. In other words, some of the stars that she included in her survey are now outside the parameters that Fish set.
This means that we can no longer say, with any degree of certainty, with any degree of confidence, that the Zeta Reticuli system is the home of any alien race. Until this research is redone, we can no longer say that we know where some of the aliens originate. The evidence just is no longer there.