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In April 2004, Luc F. A. Arnold, (Observatoire de Haute-Provence CNRS 04870 Saint-Michel - l'Observatoire, France) was working on a transit generated by a saturn-like planet when he had an idea. Could this same principle be applied to look for transiting bodies that were artificial in nature?
"I discussed the idea with several colleagues who found it interesting," commented Arnold. A collection of artificial bodies would produce light curves easily distinguishable from natural ones. For example, a triangular object or something shaped like our own man-made satellites would show an entirely different signature. If multiple artificial objects were detected transiting - this could possibly be a form of signaling the presence of other intelligent life - one with an effectiveness equal to the range of the laser pulse method.
A cost-effective alternative to radio SETI or optical SETI is to look for artificial planet-size bodies which may exist around other stars. Since they would always pass in front of their parent star for a given remote observer, there is a strong possibility they can be detected and characterized using the transit photometry method. A planetary transit light curve contains fine features due to the object shape - such as planet oblateness, double planets or ringed planets. As Arnold explains, "The sphere is the equilibrium shape preferred for massive and planet-size bodies to adapt to their own gravity, (but) one can consider non-spherical bodies, especially if they are small and lightweight and orbit a dwarf star. Their transits in front of a star would produce a detectable signal." Non-spherical artificial objects - like a triangle - would produce a specific transit light curve. If multiple objects should transit, a remarkable light curve would be created by their "on again - off again" nature of light. Such an observation would clearly claim an artificial nature. To visualize this, think of a flashlight moving behind a lowered window blind, and you'll begin to get the idea!