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Advanced extraterrestrial civilisations may be sending signals through space by "tickling" stars, new research suggests. The signalling would be the galactic equivalent of the internet.
"If it exists, it might be revealed by an analysis of already-existing stellar data," says John Learned of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.
Learned and his colleagues have focused their attention on stars that vary regularly in brightness. Crucially, these "Cepheid variables" are so luminous they can be seen as far away as 60 million light years.
Jolting the star with a kick of energy – possibly by shooting it with a beam of high-energy particles called neutrinos – could advance the pulsation by causing its core to heat up and expand, they say.
That could shorten its brightness cycle – just as an electric stimulus to a human heart at the right time can advance a heartbeat. The normal and shortened cycles could be used to encode binary "0"s and "1"s.
There may be other effective methods of communication that have substantial merit: interstellar spacecraft; optical or infrared lasers; pulsed neutrinos; modulated gravity waves; or some other kind of transmission that we will not discover for a thousand years. Advanced civilizations may have graduated far beyond radio for their own communications. But radio is powerful, cheap, fast and simple. They will know that a backward civilization like ours, wishing to receive messages from the skies, is likely to turn first to radio technology. Perhaps they will have to wheel the radio telescopes out of the Museum of Ancient Technology. If we were to receive a radio message we would know that there would be at the very least one thing we could talk about: radio astronomy.
Originally posted by Badge01
They will know that a backward civilization like ours, wishing to receive messages from the skies, is likely to turn first to radio technology. Perhaps they will have to wheel the radio telescopes out of the Museum of Ancient Technology. If we were to receive a radio message we would know that there would be at the very least one thing we could talk about: radio astronomy.
ET too bored by Earth transmissions to respond
Humans have so far sent four messages into space intended for alien listeners. But they have largely been made up of mathematically coded descriptions of some physics and chemistry, with some basic biology and descriptions of humans thrown in.
Those topics will not prove gripping reading to other civilisations, says Canadian astrophysicist Yvan Dutil. If a civilisation is advanced enough to understand the message, they will already know most of its contents, he says: "After reading it, they will be none the wiser about us humans and our achievements. In some ways, we may have been wasting our telescope time."
In 1999 and 2003, Dutil and fellow researcher Stephane Dumas beamed messages in a language of their own design into space. Now, they are working to compose more interesting messages.
"The question is, what is interesting to an extraterrestrial?" Dutil told New Scientist. "We think the answer is using some common ground to communicate things about humanity that will be new or different to them – like social features of our society."
Originally posted by 4x4fun
The nearest star to Earth, besides the Sun is called Proxima Centari.
It's 4.2 light years away.
If Aliens were using stars to send signals to us here on Earth, then it would be a very slow means of communication.
Even if they were sending signals to us from our own Sun, it would still take about 8 mins and 20 secs.