Detecting Extraterrestrial Cities

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Detecting Extraterrestrial Cities

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 30th October 2011, 8:46 pm

Detection Technique for Artificially-Illuminated Objects in the Outer Solar System and Beyond
http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.6181

Existing optical telescopes and surveys can detect artificially-illuminated objects comparable in total brightness to a major terrestrial city at the outskirts of the Solar System. Orbital parameters of Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) are routinely measured to exquisite precisions of <10^{-3}. Here we propose to measure the variation of the observed flux, F, from such objects as a function of their changing orbital distances, D. Sunlight-illuminated objects will show a logarithmic slope alpha=(dlogF/dlogD)=-4 whereas artificially-illuminated objects should exhibit alpha=-2. If objects with alpha=-2 are found, follow-up observations with large telescopes can measure their spectra to determine if they are illuminated by artificial lighting. This method opens a new window in the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. The search can be extended beyond the Solar System with next generation telescopes on the ground and in space, which would be capable of detecting phase modulation due to very strong artificial illumination on the night-side of planets as they orbit their parent stars.

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