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Title: SETI VIA LEAKAGE FROM LIGHT SAILS IN EXOPLANETARY SYSTEMS

The primary challenge of rocket propulsion is the burden of needing to accelerate the spacecraft’s own fuel, resulting in only a logarithmic gain in maximum speed as propellant is added to the spacecraft. Light sails offer an attractive alternative in which fuel is not carried by the spacecraft, with acceleration being provided by an external source of light. By artificially illuminating the spacecraft with beamed radiation, speeds are only limited by the area of the sail, heat resistance of its material, and power use of the accelerating apparatus. In this paper, we show that leakage from a light sail propulsion apparatus in operation around a solar system analogue would be detectable. To demonstrate this, we model the launch and arrival of a microwave beam-driven light sail constructed for transit between planets in orbit around a single star, and find an optimal beam frequency on the order of tens of GHz. Leakage from these beams yields transients with flux densities of Jy and durations of tens of seconds at 100 pc. Because most travel within a planetary system would be conducted between the habitable worlds within that system, multiply transiting exoplanetary systems offer the greatest chance of detection, especially when themore » planets are in projected conjunction as viewed from Earth. If interplanetary travel via beam-driven light sails is commonly employed in our galaxy, this activity could be revealed by radio follow-up of nearby transiting exoplanetary systems. The expected signal properties define a new strategy in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI)« less
Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, The Institute for Theory and Computation, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22518879
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 811; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; EARTH PLANET; FLUX DENSITY; GAIN; GALAXIES; GHZ RANGE; HEAT; MICROWAVE RADIATION; ORBITS; SOLAR SYSTEM; SPACE VEHICLES; STARS; VELOCITY; VISIBLE RADIATION