Scientists want to use the sun’s gravity to communicate between stars

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Gravity lenses It happens when massive objects create ripples and ripples in the fabric of spacetime, and light has to follow these lines, sometimes creating a magnifying glass. This is both sounds and feel like Sounds like something wild from science fiction, but it’s actually a very important tool in astronomy. of James Webb Space Telescope It’s been in the news recently for just that: observing how light bends around massive galaxy clusters in space, showing faint, old galaxies far behind them.

Now, Slava Turishev, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, is trying to point home one of these gravitational lenses at our Sun. as if A new paper has been posted on the preprint server arXivTurishev calculates all the detailed math and physics needed to demonstrate that is it. This is how our Sun’s gravity can be harnessed in some pretty cool ways. So-called “Solar Gravitational Lenses” (SGL) can help us communicate light messages between stars or probe the surface of distant exoplanets.

“Using the gravitational lensing effect of our star would be a revolutionary leap in observing capabilities in astronomy,” he says. Nick showsThe Penn State astronomer was not involved in the new work. “Lightning works both ways, so if we have someone to talk to, it can increase our transmission capacity.”

When it comes to telescopes here on Earth, bigger is definitely better. To gather enough light to see distant objects, you’ll need a large mirror or lens to focus the light – but we can only really build them so big. This is why the SGL, as an alternative to building large telescopes, favors spacetime bent by the Sun’s gravity to focus on us.

“Using SGL eliminates the need to build large telescopes and instead solves the problem of how to get the telescope to the focal distance of the Sun (and how to place it there),” he explains. Macy Houston, a Berkeley astronomer, was not involved in the new study. “And a lot of work is being done to address this,” he added.

It’s Turishev. Actively working on a mission design to send a one-meter telescope (less than half the size of the famous Necklace) to the focus of the Sun’s gravity well. It’s quite a walk – this focal point is 650 AU from the star, about five times farther than the current human distance record. Voyager 1. The team is relying on solar sail technology that allows them to move faster than ever to reach this great distance in less than a lifetime.

Plans are underway at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to send solar sails into the focus of the Sun’s gravitational lens to provide the first image of an exoplanet’s surface..

Currently, the James Webb Space Telescope is investigating the atmospheres and futures of planets around other stars. Habitat Worlds Observatory In the year Hopefully, you’ll be able to see enough detail in the atmosphere to find hints of life in the 2040s. The Turishev mission will be the next big step in proving life, starting around 2035. Once JWST and HWO identify possible interesting worlds, the SGL telescope will actually show the exoplanet in detail. Turishev says he can see a planet blowing by at up to 700 by 700 pixels—a huge improvement over the current 2 or 3 pixels in live imaging. “And if it’s a marsh that’s producing methane, we know that’s what’s sitting on this island on this continent,” he explained.

Looking to future scientific research, this same SGL technology could be used not only “as a telescope to look at other planetary systems from the solar system in detail,” but also as an “interstellar communication network (for intentional communication),” Huston says. Lasers placed in the Sun’s gravitational field can now send messages to other stars without losing as much signal as Earth-bound beacon technology.

“If we ever become an interstellar civilization, this is it. [SGL] It can be the most effective form of communication between star systems,” says Tusay. Ours Radio broadcastsSince the early 1900s, emissions from Earth’s atmosphere have been decreasing rapidly the farther away from the planet. Turishev’s calculations show that the signals sent from the SGL can be easily detected at the distances of nearby stars, even when weighted against the background noise of the real world. Transmission through the SGL is not forbidden, indeed encouraged by physics, Turishev says.

This technology cannot solve all interstellar routes. We may be able to send messages, but we still have no way to send them. ourselves To travel among the stars. There will be a huge delay in our calls to the galaxies—more like sending a cross-country letter by horse than FaceTiming with your friends. “The light is still there High speed” recalls Tusay. As a result, sending a message to a star four light years away takes four years to get there, and another four to reach us. Still, the Sun’s gravitational lens is a big step toward making our science fiction future a reality.

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