“My passion is to follow the trail of cosmic breadcrumbs left behind to reveal whether this story played out elsewhere across the ocean of stars,” says astrophysicist David Kipping, director of the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University.”
A fascinating new study and video (below) proposes firing laser beams that would curve around one of the 100 million black holes in the Milky Way and come back with added energy to help propel a spacecraft to near the speed of light. Astronomers could look for signs that alien civilizations are using such a “halo drive,” by detecting pairs of black holes that are merging more often than expected.
Kipping applies computer game strategy to our physical world, using a “hack” that would allow a civilization to achieve relativistic flight to propel a spacecraft across the galaxy without the huge energy cost.
“If we want to achieve relativistic flight, it takes immense energy levels no matter what propulsion system you use,” he added. “One way to get around this is to use astronomical objects as your power source, since they possess literally astronomical levels of energy within them. In this case, the black-hole binary is essentially a giant battery waiting for us to tap it. The idea is to work with nature and not against it.”
Image credit: Top of page, With thanks to Tomoharu Oka (Keio University); LIGO, Caltech, MIT.