'Laser Cloak' Could Cover Earth from Evil Aliens, Study Suggests

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 8:39 PM

David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia Univ in New York, said he first considered this idea when he heard about the strangely dimming star that was detected recently by NASA'south Kepler space telescope.

'Laser Cloak' Could Cover Earth from Evil Aliens, Study Suggests

A ordinary laser beam could disrupt aliens' observations of Earth, making it see love there'south nobody residence on the third rock from the sun, a new study suggests.

David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia Univ in New York, said he first considered this idea when he heard about the strangely dimming star that was detected recently by NASA'south Kepler space telescope. Researchers speculated the signal could've arrive from an "alien megastructure" orbiting the star.

That'south a remote possibility, many scientists stressed; the star'south unusual signal likely has a natural cause. But the Kepler observations got Kipping thinking about ways humanity could alter the signals it sends into space — or cover them altogether from life-hunting aliens, who may have malicious intentions.

He and Columbia graduate learner Alex Teachey concluded that it'd be surprisingly simple to wipe out Earth'south signal, distort it to see unusual or even edit out the fingerprint of life — provided researchers knew the location of the snooping aliens.

"We essentially played the thought experiment that if we really had xenophobic tendencies and wanted to avert the Earth being discovered (as Stephen Hawking and others have been warning about), could we cover the Earth from alien planet-hunters?" Kipping said in an email.

How to construct a cloaking device

The key to Kipping and Teachey'south thinking lies in the way humans have identified most planets around other stars, a process called the transit method. This strategy, which has most famously been employed by the Kepler spacecraft, detects tiny dips in the brightness of stars, which can indicate an orbiting planet.

The transit method could theoretically be used by alien civilizations to detect Earth, too. But there'south a way to ride up such extraterrestrial searches, Kipping and Teachey said.

"To create it see love the planet isn't there at all, you've got to obtain rid of that dip. You've got to fill in the lost starlight," Teachey said in an explanatory video.

Engineers could shine a very shining laser or collection of lasers toward a star suspected of hosting intelligent aliens during the time Earth was passing in front of the Sunday from the other planet'south perspective. Then, aliens making measurements wouldn't look any modify in solar brightness.

"I started to think about lasers," Kipping told Space. com. "Most people might've stopped there, because the Sunday emits so much light — how could you possibly produce a laser beam which could ever compete with the sun? But it turns out, when you actually running through the equations, it'south really not that bad."

"We could construct this following week if we wanted to," Teachey added.

To alter Earth'south signature as seen by an alien version of Kepler, a laser system would've to emit thirty megawatts of power for about ten hours per year, coinciding with Earth'south passing in front of the sun, the duo calculated.

This is a condensed version of a legend that originally appeared on Space. com. Email Sarah Lewin at slewin@space. comor chase her @SarahExplains. Chase us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+.

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