Harvard scientists are studying whether rapid radio blasts could be evidence of extraterrestrial technology
The mysterious cosmic phenomena called Rapid Radio Bursts (FRB) could be evidence of an extraterrestrial interstellar spacecraft propulsion technology. Specifically, these bursts could be leaks from planetary-sized transmitters that feed interstellar probes into distant galaxies.
“Rapid radio bursts are extremely bright due to their short duration and origin at great distances, and we have not identified a possible natural source with any confidence,” says theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (cfa). ” It is worth contemplating and checking an artificial origin , “ he says.
As the name implies, FRB radio rapid bursts are radio emission flashes of several milliseconds. Discovered for the first time in 2007, less than two dozen have been detected by gigantic radio telescopes such as the Parkes Observatory in Australia or the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. It is inferred that they come from distant galaxies, billions of light-years away.
radio transmitter strong enough to be detectable across immense distances
Loeb and his co-author Manasvi Lingam (Harvard University) examined the feasibility of creating a radio transmitter strong enough to be detectable across such immense distances.
They found that if the transmitter were powered by solar energy, the sunlight falling on an area of one planet twice the size of the Earth would be enough to generate the necessary energy. A project of such vast construction is beyond our technology, but within the scope of possibility according to the laws of physics.
Would Transmitter Even Be Visible?
Lingam and Loeb also considered whether such a transmitter would be viable from an engineering perspective, or whether the enormous energies involved would merge any underlying structure. Again, they found that a water-cooled device twice the size of the Earth could withstand the heat.
Then they wondered, why build that instrument in the first place? They argue that the most plausible use of such energy is driving interstellar light sails. The amount of energy involved would be enough to push a payload of one million tons, or about 20 times the largest cruise ships on Earth. “That’s big enough to carry passengers across interstellar or even intergalactic distances ,” Lingam said in a statement from Cfa.
To power a light dinghy, the transmitter would need to focus a beam on it continuously. Observers on Earth would see a brief glimmer because the candle and its host planet, star and galaxy are moving in relation to us. As a result, lightning sweeps across the sky and only points in our direction for a moment. Repeated beam appearances, which were observed but can not be explained by astrophysical catastrophic events, could provide important clues as to their artificial origin.
Loeb admits that this work is speculative. Asked if he really believes that any rapid blast of radio is due to aliens, he responds: “Science is not a question of belief, it is a matter of evidence . Deciding what is likely ahead of time limits possibilities. The data is the judge “. The article reporting this work has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available online.