To travel through interstellar space, humans will need to develop new technologies to propel our spacecraft and go further than ever before.
Right now, we barely have the technology to take mankind to Mars, and that’s a risky one, and has never been attempted.
We managed to put mankind on the moon, and that is arguably the best human achievement in terms of space exploration and where humans have been.
Eventually, as we discover new means to travel through space, we could become an interstellar species. Some would even say; we are destined to become one.
But what if there’s someone out there, more advanced than us, who already has the means to travel through interstellar space?
How would Aliens travel through the vastness of the universe? What sort of technologies could they make use of?
An astronomer at Columbia University argues that mankind could achieve fuel-free interstellar travel, and all we have to do is harvest energy from binary black holes in a new technology he describes as the ‘Halo Drive.’
In fact, Professor David Kipping argues that advanced alien civilizations in the cosmos could already be using this technology and we wouldn’t even notice.
This technology would work by making use of so-called gravitational mirrors—regions of black holes that devour matter and ‘spit’ it back out in the exact same direction—and absorb the black hole’s energy.
“Sometimes, in a computer game you find an ‘exploit,’ a hack which allows you to do something overpowered that would otherwise be forbidden by the rules of the game,” Kipping told Space.com.
“In this case, the game is the physical world, and I tried to think about exploits that would allow a civilization to achieve relativistic flight back and forth across the galaxy without the vast energy expense that one might naively assume.”
Writing in the preprint server arXiv, Kipping explained:
“The search for intelligence amongst the cosmos is often guided by considering the possible activities of hypothetical advanced civilizations and the associated technosignatures that would result.”
“Along these lines, this work has considered how an advanced civilization might utilize the light sailing concept to conduct relativistic and extremely efficient propulsion,” the researchers added.
The secret behind the propulsion system can be found by looking at photons.
Scientists have observed that when photons enter a gravitational mirror and end up being expelled, not only do they gain velocity from their cosmic trip, they retain the kinetic energy from their journey.
Professor Kipping explains that using returned photons, which are dubbed ‘boomerang photons’, cosmic travelers could theoretically harvest incredible amounts of energy that would allow them to journey through space at a velocity 133 percent greater than the black hole.
By harvesting energy from Black Holes, astronauts would be same from trading dangerously close to the gravitational void.
Furthermore, it would make travelers very difficult to detect.
“A civilization could exploit black holes as galactic waypoints but would be difficult to detect remotely, except for an elevated binary merger rate and excess binary eccentricity,” writes Kipping.
Kipping argues that a civilization that has the necessary technology to venture out and travel in close proximity to black holes could theoretically be using this sort of interstellar travel without our knowledge.
Furthermore, the proposed ‘engine’ does not make use of massive amounts of fuel, as the halo drive subvert the need for any prior energy other than that harvested from the black hole. As noted by space.com, instead of carrying propellant for propulsion, spacecraft equipped with mirror-like sails could rely on lasers to push them outward into space.