Black hole detector ‘could massively speed up search for aliens’

Could huge alien spacecraft offer a new way to detect intelligent life? (Getty Images)

A black hole detector on Earth could find aliens piloting huge spacecraft, looking for the typical “gravitational waves” emitted during the acceleration of a Jupiter-sized mass.

Researchers believe it could greatly speed up the search for alien life, rather than relying on scans of a relatively small number of stars.

Since 2015, scientists have been able to detect and interpret gravitational waves thanks to detectors on Earth, including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).

Researchers from several institutions believe the LIGO observatory could offer a powerful new way to search for alien life beyond the reach of current telescopes.

In particular, the project could look for gravitational waves emitted by accelerating a huge spacecraft to a fraction of the speed of light.

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Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime that travel at the speed of light and are produced by incredibly violent events such as collisions between black holes or neutron stars.

The LIGO project uses lasers to measure small changes in the length of a tunnel in an attempt to measure gravitational waves.

In a preprinted paper posted on the Arxiv server, the researchers wrote: “We demonstrate that LIGO is a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

“LIGO’s ability to detect gravitational waves from accelerating astrophysical sources, such as binary black holes, also offers the potential to detect extraterrestrial mega-technology, such as rapidly and/or massively accelerating spacecraft (RAMAcraft).”

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The paper shows that the detector could detect a RAMAcraft the weight of Jupiter if it accelerated to 10% the speed of light.

To be detected, the craft would need to be within 326,000 light-years of Earth.

The researchers write: ‘Existing SETI searches probe thousands to tens of thousands of stars for human-scale technology (e.g. radio waves), while LIGO can probe all 1000,000,000,000,000 stars in the Via Milky for RAMAcraft.

“We predict that current and future gravitational wave detectors will soon become an excellent complement to existing SETI efforts.”

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