Alien astronomers: can laser technology attract extraterrestrial creatures?

Alien astronomers: can laser technology attract extraterrestrial creatures?
© iStock/Yuri_Arcurs

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have proposed that existing laser technology could be used on Earth to attract “alien astronomers”, intelligent extraterrestrial creatures who, if they exist, may detect our laser signal.

MIT have suggested that laser technology could be used in the form of a “planetary porch light” to attract extraterrestrial creatures up to 20,000 light years away.

Could laser technology attract extra terrestrial creatures?

The specific laser technology they refer to is a high-powered 1- to 2-megawatt laser were focused through a30- to 45-metre telescope and aimed out into space. MIT say that this combination could produce a beam of infrared radiation strong enough to be detected by extraterrestrial creatures.

James Clark, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics said: “This would be a challenging project but not an impossible one…The kinds of lasers and telescopes that are being built today can produce a detectable signal, so that an astronomer could take one look at our star and immediately see something unusual about its spectrum. I don’t know if intelligent creatures around the sun would be their first guess, but it would certainly attract further attention.”

Sending a message to alien astronomers

The study suggested that the same megawatt laser could be used to communicate with extraterrestrial creatures who are surveying the galaxy. They said that the laser could be used to send a brief message akin to Morse code. Clark added: “If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years.”

If E.T. phones home

Clark commented: “As the infrared spectra of exoplanets are studied for traces of gases that indicate the viability of life, and as full-sky surveys attain greater coverage and become more rapid, we can be more certain that, if E.T. is phoning, we will detect it.”

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