Two MIT researchers have proposed a radical method to publicize our presence in the universe.
In a new feasibility study, the team says it could be possible to use laser technology as a beacon to attract the attention of alien astronomers, much like a planet-scale porch light.
With a laser focused through a giant telescope, the researchers say that this "veranda light" is already visible from 20,000 light-years away.
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Researchers have found that it could be possible to use laser technology as a beacon to attract the attention of alien astronomers, much like a planet-scale porch light. The impression of the artist is shown
In an article published in the Astrophysical Journal, the MIT team describes how a 1 to 2 megawatt high power laser could be directed toward space using a 30 to 45 meter telescope to create a detectable beacon.
In this configuration, the system's infrared radiation would be strong enough to be distinguished from an intelligent species by the sun.
Once picked up by aliens in a nearby system, we could also use it to send text messages, the researchers say.
"If we successfully complete a handshake and start communicating, we could flash a message with a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in a few years," says author James Clark, a graduate student in the MIT department for aerospace.
According to the team, the system could be built with existing technologies and tools that could be developed soon.
"This would be a challenging project, but not impossible," says Clark.
"The kind of lasers and telescopes that are being built today can produce a detectable signal so that an astronomer can take a look at our star and immediately see something out of the ordinary in its spectrum.
"I do not know if intelligent creatures around the Sun might be the first guess, but it would certainly attract more attention."
Two MIT researchers have proposed a radical method to publicize our presence in the universe. Shown is the 3.6 meter long ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile with images of the stars Proxima Centauri
The researcher investigated several options before finally arriving at the two configurations that would best suit the concept design.
A 2-megawatt laser beamed through a 30-meter telescope would produce a signal that is clearly visible from Proxima Centauri b, which is about 4 light-years away.
And a 1-megawatt laser blasted through a 45-meter telescope could easily be seen from the Trappist 1 system, which is 40 light-years away.
Both could be detectable up to 20,000 light-years, according to Clark.
However, such a system would involve risks.
A 1-megawatt laser blasted through a 45-meter telescope would be easy to spot after 40 light years away from the Trappist 1 system, according to the team. The artist's impression of the Trappist 1 planets is shown
With a laser focused through a giant telescope, the researchers say that this "veranda light" is already visible from 20,000 light-years away. In closer systems like Trappist-1 the signal is more clearly visible
Although it would not be visible to the naked eye, the beam could interfere with spacecraft instruments on its way or interfere with a person's vision when they look directly at it.
"If you wanted to build this thing on the other side of the moon, where nobody lives or has to circle a lot, this could be a safer place for it," says Clark.
"In general, this was a feasibility study. Whether this is a good idea or not is a discussion for the future work. "
If the roles were reversed and we were instead looking for such a beacon from outer space, the researchers say that it would be hard to find with current technology.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES HUMANITY CARRIED OUT IN HIS SEARCH OF ALIEN LIFE?
Discovery of pulsars
The British astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was the first to discover a pulsar in 1967 when she discovered a radio pulsar.
Since then, other types of pulsars have been spotted emitting X-rays and gamma rays.
Pulsars are essentially rotating, highly magnified neutron stars, but when discovered they were believed to come from extraterrestrials.
"Wow!" – Radio signal
In 1977, an astronomer searching for an extraterrestrial life in the nearby skies over Ohio discovered a strong radio signal that was so strong that he excitedly wrote "Wow!" Beside his data.
In 1977, an astronomer searching for an extraterrestrial life in the nearby skies over Ohio discovered a strong radio signal that was so strong that he excitedly wrote "Wow!" Beside his data
The 72-second explosion, by Dr. med. Jerry Ehman was spotted by a radio telescope, came from Sagittarius, but brought together no known celestial object.
Conspiracy theorists have since claimed that the "Wow! Signal, which was 30 times stronger than background radiation, was a message from intelligent aliens.
Petrified Mars microbes
In 1996, Nasa and the White House made the explosive announcement that the rock contained traces of Mars bugs.
Listed as Allen Hills (ALH) 84001, the meteorite crashed into the frozen Antarctic waste 13,000 years ago and was salvaged in 1984.
Photographs were published showing elongated segmented objects that are strikingly lifelike.
Photographs were published that showed elongated segmented objects that are strikingly lifelike (picture).
The excitement did not last long. Other scientists asked if the meteorite samples were contaminated.
They also argued that heat generated when the rock was blown up into space could have created mineral structures that could be confused with microfossils.
Behavior of Tabby's Star in 2005
The star, also known as KIC 8462852, is 1,400 light-years away and has astonished astronomers since its discovery in 2015.
It gets much faster than other stars, which some experts suggest give aliens the power of a star.
The star, also known as KIC 8462852, is 1,400 light-years away and has astonished astonomen since its discovery in 2015 (impression of the artist).
Recent studies have "eliminated the possibility of an alien megastructure," suggesting instead that a dust ring could cause the strange signals.
Exoplanets in the Goldilocks Zone in 2015
In February of this year, astronomers announced that they had discovered a star system with planets that could support life for only 39 light-years.
Seven Earth-like planets have been discovered to surround the nearby dwarf star – Trappist-1 & # 39; circling and all could have water on the surface, one of the key components of life.
Three of the planets have such good conditions that scientists say that life has already evolved on them.
The researchers claim that within a decade, they'll know if there is life on one of the planets or not and say, "This is just the beginning."
"It's unlikely that a telescope survey will actually detect an alien laser unless we limit ourselves to the nearest stars," says Clark.
"With current survey methods and tools, it is unlikely that we could actually be lucky enough to reproduce a beacon lightning, assuming that aliens exist and do it," says Clark.
However, since the exoplanets' infrared spectra are examined for traces of gases indicating the viability of life, and as full-frame images reach longer range and become faster, we can be more confident that ET, when talking on the phone, will do so recognize it. & # 39;