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The sun as a gravitational lens to communicate with extraterrestrial civilizations

The sun as a gravitational lens to communicate with extraterrestrial civilizations

When NASA Share first deep picture Championship of the galaxy cluster called SMACS 0723 in the middle, astronomy enthusiasts all hopped in their seats for the amazing detail, the very large number of celestial bodies and visible gravitational lenses.

If SMACS 0723 is located about 4.6 billion light-years away from our point of view, then thanks to the effect of gravitational lensing we were able to observe galaxies centered 13.1 billion light-years away from us. The gravitational lensing effect predicts, in complete agreement with the theory of general relativity, that large celestial bodies such as black holes and galaxy clusters, are able to bend the path of light passing in a manner similar to what an optical lens would. (You can see an example in the title), and some believe this property can also be exploited with smaller orbs.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity tells us that the gravitational pull of massive celestial bodies can bend light. When it does, it focuses and magnifies the light of objects behind it like a telescope, achieving an effect called a gravitational lens.

For example, let’s think about our Sun and try to imagine a way to use it as a gravitational lens to observe other star systems and very distant exoplanets. We will have in our hands a kind of very powerful natural telescope that will open up endless possibilities for study.

But someone has gone so far as to assume that this system can bring with it other advantages that, with our current technological development, we cannot currently exploit. But who said that other civilizations did not develop before our own and were able to exploit gravitational lenses in ways we can’t imagine now? This is what a group of graduate students at Penn State thinks, according to which communications can also enjoy this property of space-time, and perhaps Perhaps someone has already established a true interstellar communication network.

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It’s good to point out right away that in this case, the boundaries between science and science fiction are really blurred We talk about the hypotheses on which the theories are based. In short, the base is shaky but wonderful at the same time, so you must have an open mind and free of preconceived ideas when reading news of this caliber.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter: during the SETI cycle The search for extraterrestrial intelligenceThe alumni group suggested that gravitational lenses could also influence other processes besides visible light, and if this proves to be true, communications might also exploit the phenomenon of amplification in some way. If any particularly advanced civilization was able to exploit the star-induced gravitational lensing as well Our Sun could be part of a large communications network over long distances. The principle of operation can in some ways resemble that of the cellular networks currently in use on Earth, stated Nick Tosai, one of the students involved in the research.

Humans use networks to communicate around the world all the time. When you use a cell phone, the electromagnetic waves travel to the nearest cell tower, which connects to the next tower and so on.

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Imagine that a civilization launched sensors at specific locations near a star with the aim of exploiting a gravitational lensing, and that these were used as focal points for a large communications network. What if our sun were part of it? Maybe even with our current technology we might be able to catch something. Thus, based on these assumptions, the group of students used the Green Bank Telescope, in West Virginia, to search for radio transmissions that might have been broadcast from star systems near ours, with a particular focus on Alpha Centauri.

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Once again, radio wave monitoring was chosen rather than light waves, as it was considered the best way to send communications into space. result? No sign has been set at the moment, but it seems that hope is not lost. Research, in fact, was Limited to one night only Thus it did not provide an important sample that would allow us to completely exclude the hypothesis of gravitational lensing as an interstellar communication system. So the idea is to try again in the future with longer periods of time.

However, the phenomenon of gravitational lensing is not only fascinating, it is currently being investigated by astronomers to build a new generation of telescopes. Strong enough to make James Webb palewhich could one day allow us to better observe planets around stars that are light years away.