Black hole detector 'could massively accelerate search for aliens'

·2-min read
Futuristic space city rings. 3D generated image.
Could huge alien spacecraft offer a new way to detect intelligent life? (Getty Images)

A black hole detector on Earth could find aliens piloting huge spacecraft – by looking for the trademark 'gravity waves' emitted when accelerating a mass the size of Jupiter.

Researchers believe it could accelerate hugely the search for alien life, rather than relying on scans of relatively small numbers of stars.

Since 2015, scientists have been able to detect and interpret gravitational waves thanks to detectors on Earth, including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).

Researchers at several institutions believe that the LIGO observatory could offer a powerful new way to look for alien life, beyond the scope of current telescopes.

In particular, the project could look for gravity waves emitted by the acceleration of a huge spacecraft to a fraction of lightspeed.

Read more: What are fast radio bursts, and why do they look like aliens?

Gravity waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime that travel at the speed of light – and are produced by incredibly violent events like collisions between black holes or neutron stars.

The LIGO project uses lasers to measure tiny changes in the length of a tunnel in an attempt to measure gravitational waves.

In a pre-print paper published to the Arxiv server, the researchers wrote: "We show that LIGO is a powerful instrument in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI).

"LIGO's ability to detect gravitational waves from accelerating astrophysical sources, such as binary black holes, also provides the potential to detect extra-terrestrial mega-technology, such as rapid and/or massive accelerating spacecraft (RAMAcraft)."

Read more: There might once have been life on the moon

The paper shows that the detector could pick up a RAMAcraft weighing the same as Jupiter if it accelerated up to 10% of the speed of light.

To be detected, the craft would have to be within 326,000 light years of Earth.

The researchers write: "Existing SETI searches probe on the order of thousands to tens of thousands of stars for human-scale technology (e.g. radiowaves), whereas LIGO can probe all 1000,000,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way for RAMAcraft.

"We expect that the current and upcoming gravity wave detectors will soon become an excellent complement to the existing SETI efforts."

Watch: Man thought he saw an alien on Scottish beach