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Proceedings Paper

Implications of directed energy for SETI
Author(s): Philip Lubin
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Paper Abstract

We compute the detectability of directed-energy (DE) sources from distant civilizations that may exist. Recent advances in our own DE technology suggest that our eventual capabilities will radically enhance our capacity to broadcast our presence and hence allow us to ponder the reverse case of detection. We show that DE systems are detectable at vast distances, possibly across the entire horizon, which profoundly alters conceivable search strategies for extra-terrestrial, technologically-advanced civilizations. Even modest searches are extremely effective at detecting or constraining many civilization classes. A single civilization anywhere in our galaxy of comparable technological advancement to our own can be detected with near unity probability with a cluster of 0.1 m telescopes on Earth. A 1 m class telescope can detect a single civilization anywhere in the Andromeda galaxy. A search strategy is proposed using small Earth-based telescopes to observe 1012-1020 stellar and planetary systems. Such observations could address whether there exist other civilizations which are broadcasting with similar or more advanced DE capability. We show that such searches have near-unity probability of detecting comparably advanced civilizations anywhere in our galaxy within a few years, assuming the civilization: (1) adopts a simple “intelligent targeting” beacon strategy; (2) is beaconing at a wavelength we can detect; (3) broadcast the beacon long enough for the light to reach Earth now. In this blind-beacon, blind-search strategy, the civilization need not know where we are nor do we need to know where they are. The same basic strategy can be extended to extragalactic distances.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 September 2016
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9981, Planetary Defense and Space Environment Applications, 99810H (19 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2238212
Show Author Affiliations
Philip Lubin, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9981:
Planetary Defense and Space Environment Applications
Gary B. Hughes, Editor(s)

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