A phenomenon known as gravitational lensing indicates that aliens might be transmitting signals with the sun, though a fast search for such signals has discovered nothing.
Are aliens exploiting the quirk of the sun’s gravity to transmit information through an interstellar communication network? Astronomers looked at this interesting possibility for the first time, and scanned for signals coming from concealed non – human probes orbiting the sun.
The method has not discovered signs of spacefaring aliens yet, but represents a promising new method for searching for aliens as part of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
The brand new search tactic is based on Albert Einstein’s findings, which showed in 1915 that gravity warps the fabric of space time. What this means is that massive objects like galaxies and stars flex light around them. This particular phenomenon is known as gravitational lensing, and it allows scientists to see very distant objects whose light is warped by enormous foreground galaxies and galactic clusters.
“It’s like looking through a magnifying glass,” Penn State student Nicholas Tusay said.
Magnification performs best by having a magnifying glass and a gravitational lens, when an individual or detector is positioned at a focal point, he said.
The sun’s gravitational center point starts at roughly 550 astronomical units (AU), or 550 times the distance between Earth and the sun, Tusay said. A telescope positioned on the location would have incredible abilities, he said, able to solve continents and mountains on a planet orbiting a different star.
“Light goes both ways,” remarked Tusay. “If you are able to magnify light coming to you, you are able to even magnify light going out.”
Which means that gravitational lensing can in addition be used to send signals effectively across interstellar distances, so researchers have speculated that tech-savvy aliens may place probes at focal points of stars, transforming them into a gigantic point-to-point communication network.
In order to test the theory, Tusay as well as his associates used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to look for radio signals coming from the sun’s gravitational centerpiece, six five-minute scans. And what were they discovering?
“Nothing,” he replied. “To declare it accurately: No compelling signals that were extraterrestrial in origin were identified in the frequencies we observed during the time we observed. “
The results were published in the Astronomical Journal last summer and were presented by Tusay at the American Astronomical Society’s 241st meeting in Seattle last week.
While there’s no evidence of ET, Tusay said, it is possible that alien probes positioned at the gravitational center of the sunlight might turn on from time to time. Some other stars also have properties that make them a lot better nodes in a huge space internet, so these might be additional search targets, he said. He sees the method more as a proof of concept that could turn up something intriguing if pursued with more time and resources.
“We’re always talking about new means to search in the field of SETI,” Julia DeMarines, an astrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the work, told Live Science. “This is the very first time I have observed a dedicated search to this particular possibility of intercepting messages.’
Whenever nothing is observed in a SETI search, that could mean that nobody is communicating or merely that nobody is talking in these ways, she added. “Any new search method is always welcome,” DeMarines explained. “If you do not look, you’ll not know,” she explained.
This article was originally published by Livescience.