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Proceedings Paper

Detection of extrasolar far-infrared lasers
Author(s): Sean W. J. Colgan; Edwin F. Erickson; Michael R. Haas; David J. Hollenbach; Howard A. Smith; Vladimir S. Strelnitski
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Paper Abstract

The idea of interstellar communication with the aid of lasers and the possibility of manipulating natural lasers to this end make the search for lasing cosmic sources a part of the SETI program. Yet, apart from the very weak lasing in the 10 micrometers CO2 band in the Martian and Venusian atmospheres, only one case of possible natural lasing, in the 4.7 micrometers hydrogen Pf(beta) line from the Becklin-Neugenbauer source in Orion, has been reported but never confirmed. Given hundreds of maser sources detected during the 30 years after their first discover in 1965, the lack of detected natural lasers became a tantalizing puzzle. We undertook a search for high-gain hydrogen lasers in the far-infrared spectrum of MWC349, a peculiar star known as a unique source of mm/submm hydrogen masers. We used the facility cryogenic grating spectrometer onboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. An efficient criterion of lasing is elaborated using a set of nonlasing, spontaneous emission lines as a reference. The shortest wavelength line showing an excess of radiation in our search is H10(alpha) at 52 micrometers . We briefly discuss possible reasons for the lack of detectable lasers in the visual and near- infrared domains.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 June 1996
PDF: 1 pages
Proc. SPIE 2704, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum II, (24 June 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.243441
Show Author Affiliations
Sean W. J. Colgan, NASA Ames Research Ctr. and SETI Institute (United States)
Edwin F. Erickson, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Michael R. Haas, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
David J. Hollenbach, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Howard A. Smith, National Air and Space Museum/Smithsonian Institution (United States)
Vladimir S. Strelnitski, National Air and Space Museum/Smithsonian Institution (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2704:
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum II
Stuart A. Kingsley; Guillermo A. Lemarchand, Editor(s)

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