A new study issued in the Astrophysical Journal explained that a powerful-enough laser beam, placed atop a mountain on Earth and focused through a telescope, can send light of infrared radiation as far as 20,000 light years away from our planet. Some scientists came out voicing that it would be a bad idea since it might deliver our location to extraterrestrials.
Interestingly, the same debate had already been held during the Voyager missions designed to contact another civilization. Back then, Ann Druyan, the wife of the renowned Carl Sagan, said that “it’s rather cynical, she explained, to think that an extraterrestrial civilization advanced enough to notice us and make the long trip to Earth would be so emotionally stunted as to purposely destroy us upon arrival.”
However, the recent study aims for alien contact, and the scientists hope that extraterrestrials would notice such a powerful laser beam and that they would communicate with us using similar methods.
This Laser Beam Might Help Us Communicate With Extraterrestrials
“The findings suggest that if a high-powered 1- to 2-megawatt laser were focused through a massive 30- to 45-meter telescope and aimed out into space, the combination would produce a beam of infrared radiation strong enough to stand out from the sun’s energy,” the MIT News reported.
According to the scientists, the laser beam would be observable from nearby systems, such as those in the vicinity of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth, or TRAPPIST-1, a celestial body at about 40 light-years away that houses seven exoplanets with three of which could be habitable.
“If we were to close a handshake and start to communicate successfully, 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,” said James Clark from MIT. “With current survey methods and instruments, it is unlikely that we would actually be lucky enough to image a beacon flash (…) However, 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 ET is phoning, we will detect it,” he added.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.