Aliens are alive and well - and could be tuning into vintage human radio broadcasts, according to scientists.

Experts involved in the study of alien worlds told the Government they were convinced that life exists elsewhere in the universe.

They gathered at the Department of Trade and Industry in London to meet the Science Minister, Malcolm Wicks, reports the Daily Telegraph.

They told him that there have been remarkable advances in looking for stars with planets and said they are beginning to find Earth-like planets that might have water.

Prof Glenn White of Open University said a European Space Agency mission called Darwin, a flotilla of telescopes due for launch in 2018, will scan 500 stars over five years within a distance of 60 light years.

"Once the mission gets up, we are pretty sure that, if there is life out there, we are going to have an extremely high probability of telling you whether life has started on a planet," said Prof White.

"Around 2020 we will have very definitive answers."

And Dr Michael Perryman, formerly of the European Space Agency, pointed out that it is already possible to analyse the light from an alien planet for life signs, "which is staggering".

He added that aliens could now be eavesdropping on us. "As from 1927, we have been propagating outwards from Earth, a very specific indicator of our existence."

These radio waves were now 80 light years away.

"That is going to encompass many hundreds of potentially habitable planets," he said. "It is not just a one way process. If there is intelligent life out there, they sure as hell know we are here."