Two engineers have discovered a unique method in detecting alien spaceships traveling at near light speeds.
Sure, interstellar travel may be something out of a sci-fi movie or a book, but Ulvi Yurtsever and Steven Wilkinson at the defense contractor Raytheon in El Segundo, California, indicate that spotting alien ships is easier that we think, thanks to technology of course.
The duo suggests that alien-like ships traveling at relativistic speeds can easily intermingle with photons in the cosmic microwave background, which is dubbed CMB. This means that a spacecraft traveling at near light speed would leave a unique signature, and this means it would therefore be fully discoverable.
Their research, which was just published in this month's MIT Technology Review, points out that the interaction with photons in the CMB “should create a drag that imposes specific limits on how fast spacecraft can travel.”
And, “it should also produce a unique signature of relativistic spaceflight that ought to be visible with today’s technology should any vehicles of this type be zipping through our galactic neighborhood.”
A high speed moving spaceship – regardless of its size – would appear as highly powerful gamma rays once colliding with microwave photons.
How the cosmic microwave background would appear to a forward facing observer located in a relativistic spacecraft (picture bellow).
The CMB is the reverberation of the Bing Bang, suggest the engineers in their paper. This is essentially light remaining from its early stages of formation and which has been expanded – just like our universe. Now in a more confined microwave region, detection is naturally more probable and of course easier.
The engineers indicate that the universe is filled full of radiation – lots and lots of it. With this, each cubic “centimeter of the cosmos contacts over 400 cosmic microwave photons so a spacecraft crossing interstellar space would collide with thousands of billons of them each second.”
So, this all means that when a spaceship would collide with the mass array of photons, electron-positron pairs would then be created and each pair would prompt a drag on an alien spaceship.
“Assuming an effective cross-sectional area of say 100 square meters, the dissipative effect is about two million Joules per second,” the engineers explain in their published work.
“While special relativity imposes an absolute speed limit at the speed of light, our Universe is not empty... The constituents that fill the interstellar/intergalactic vacuum, including the cosmic microwave background photons, impose a lower speed limit on any object travelling at relativistic velocities. Scattering of cosmic microwave photons from an ultra-relativistic object may create radiation with a characteristic signature allowing the detection of such objects at large distances.”
They also indicate in their work that “in general one can imagine the same interactions that occur in a particle accelerator to occur between relativistic spacecraft and interstellar matter. Our assumption that matter-matter interactions can be dealt with when civilization can build relativistic spacecraft may prove false and may be a barrier that will prevent space travel [at relativistic speeds]."
How the cosmic microwave background would appear to a forward facing observer located in a relativistic spacecraft.
So, will Yurtsever and Wilkinson get the chance to detect any spaceships flying at high-speeds near earth?
They plan on utilizing various and unique forms of detector technologies in order to do so. And they will also make an effort along with their colleagues to even someday create new and innovative detector technologies so we can spot alien visitors more easily.
Since the universe is not empty might suggest that we in fact are not alone. Time will tell.