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Laser technology could be used to signal our presence in the Universe

In a new research paper, scientists want to build a laser that could guide an extraterrestrial civilization and bring them to Earth.

“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,” affirmed James Clark, the study's lead author. The research suggests that a laser, 1 to 2 megawatts in strength and coming from a telescope at least 100 feet in length, aimed into space, could get the attention of civilizations as far as 20,000 light years from Earth. In the coming years this could be possible.

image-credit-MIT
Image credit: MIT

Technically, "the next major gap to address for searching for extraterrestrial lasers is in expanding spectral searches into the infrared, where most terrestrial communication and high-power lasers are manufactured." The team says the best targets are probably Proxima Centauri b, the closest known exoplanet at just four light-years away, or the seven-planet system around TRAPPIST-1, which is 40 light-years from Earth. Some problems are concerning. The study notes that a laser that powerful could damage the vision of anybody who looked directly at it, and might mess with the instruments of satellites that pass through the beam. And should we be broadcasting our presence to the universe at all ?

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