A GIANT telescope could use a powerful laser to tap out messages to alien stargazers, a new study has suggested.
The combination of a laser of between one and two megawatts and a 100-150 ft telescope would deliver infrared radiation that could attract attention as far as 20,000 light years away, the research says.
That combination would produce a beam of infrared radiation strong enough to stand out from the sun’s energy.
The signal would be detectable to aliens especially if they lived in nearby systems, such as around Proxima Centaur, says the MIT study.
If the little green men detected the signal, it would be possible to send them a message in the form of pulses similar to Morse code.
But study author James Clark said even if we did make contact, the conversation won’t be quick witted banter.
Messages would sent at “a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years”.
“This would be a challenging project but not an impossible one,” said Clark, whose study is published in The Astrophysical Journal.
“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.”
Creating the device would call on laser and telescope technology that has either already been developed, or is within practical reach.
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Clark calculated that the required laser is equivalent to U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Laser, a now-defunct military jet that was meant to use lasers to shoot down missiles.
Though the telescope would bigger than anything currently on earth, such massive telescopes are under construction.
They include the 79 ft Giant Magellan Telescope and the 128 ft European Extremely Large Telescope, both of which are currently under construction in Chile.
“I wanted to see if I could take the kinds of telescopes and lasers that we’re building today, and make a detectable beacon out of them,” Clark.
The post-graduate student at MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said as the search for alien life becomes more advanced “we can be more certain that, if E.T. is phoning, we will detect it”.
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