Energy

Study: We’ve Been Looking For Aliens In The Wrong Place This Whole Time

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Humans haven’t been looking for ancient alien civilizations correctly, according to a study that found alien-built mega-structures would likely be around pulsars, not stars.

The study, conducted by a scientist at the Free University of Tbilisi, concluded humanity has been looking in the wrong places for alien mega-structures. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) scientists have long argued humans could detect distant alien civilizations by looking for technological artifacts called Dyson’s Spheres. These spheres are theoretical constructs that would entirely surround a star and harvest 100 percent of its energy.

Before the study, scientists thought extremely advanced alien civilizations would construct Dyson Spheres.

The new research argues that instead of building a vast Dyson Sphere encompassing a typical star, extremely advanced aliens would likely build ring-like structures around pulsars.

Pulsars are neutron stars that emit powerful bursts of electromagnetic radiation in a narrow channel at extremely predictable periods — meaning alien civilizations would get more energy for the amount of work they did.

The study is important because it is a potential solution to the Fermi Paradox, the question of why scientists haven’t yet detected aliens. The universe is vast enough that if intelligent alien life was common, logically scientists should have detected it by now. Since many previous SETI searches for advanced aliens looked for Dyson Spheres, not these ring-like structures, this offers a solution to the paradox.

Such Dyson Rings could be spotted by identifying infrared energy signatures using existing telescopes. By examining how such structures would vary in terms of the amount of infrared radiation emitted, the study concludes that they could probably be spotted in the local universe if they exist.

Modern infrared telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) – have the necessary capacity to monitor nearby pulsars within 652 light years for signs of alien built mega-structures.

Scientists have pondered the existence of Dyson Spheres since the 1960s, thinking they could be a potential solution to energy problems faced by an extremely ancient alien civilization.

A Dyson’s Sphere is still one of the better explanations for the mysterious behavior of the star “KIC 8462852,” according to a December study that observed the star for 15 months.

“We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to,” Ben Montet, a Caltech astronomer who co-authored a study on the star, told Gizmodo. “None of the considered phenomena can alone explain the observations.”

So far, astronomers haven’t found a good single naturalistic explanation for the star’s unusual behavior. Astronomers examined 500 other stars in the vicinity of KIC 8462852, and saw nothing else like it. The new study debunked several other possible explanations for the star.

KIC 8462852 is dimming in an odd manner, which would require it to be orbited by huge and dense formations that would block out its light. The dense formations near KIC 8462852 appear to be similar to “Dyson Spheres,” hypothetical, energy-harvesting “megastructures” aliens could build by rearranging the solar system. However, the kind of naturally formed large masses that cause KIC 8462852’s dimming aren’t consistent with the star’s age.

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