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‘The Listeners’?

Is there anybody there? Can you perceive the light that we have lit for you…?
The scientists have decided to shoot laser rays to the space in an attempt to communicate with alien civilisations! According to sources close to NASA, scientists will install powerful telescopes at the top of high mountains for sending strong laser rays to the cosmos. Sources hinted that scientists could place a telescope even on the Moon for the same purpose. The laser beams could help the alien civilisations trace the Milky Way Galaxy (which contains our Solar System) 20,000 light-years away and contact us in future.
It is to be noted that Chinese writer Liu Cixin had revealed such plan in his science fiction novel ‘The Three-Body Problem’. Recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researcher James Clark has mentioned a similar plan in his research paper that has recently been published in The Astrophysical Journal. His works suggest that the existing technology could be used to produce an infrared beam bright enough to be spotted by intelligent alien civilisations. “Once discovered, it would be like a bread crumb trail pointing right back to the Earth, and extraterrestrials could come calling,” wrote Clark.


Milky Way Galaxy

Researchers believe that the use of laser rays and powerful telescopes could make it ‘possible’ for human beings to communicate with the aliens! However, the scientists would have to increase the power of laser beam and also the diameter of the telescopic lens before launching the mission. The scientists had managed to create powerful laser beams six decades ago (during the Cold War between the US and erstwhile Soviet Union). The success of Soviet scientists prompted their American counterparts to create 2-megawatt laser rays (mainly to destroy Soviet missiles). The sole purpose of using laser rays was to destroy the enemies at that time. And now, the laser rays will be used to confirm the existence of alien civilisations in the universe and to make contacts with them.
Clark explained: “This would be a challenging project, but not an impossible one. The kinds of lasers and telescopes that are being built today can produce a detectable signal so that an astronomer could take one look at our star and immediately see something unusual about its spectrum. I don’t know if intelligent creatures around the Sun would be their first guess, but it would certainly attract further attention.


Aliens

Clark stressed that he and his MIT colleague Dr Kerri Cahoy found that “a 2-megawatt laser – pointed through a 30m telescope – could produce a signal strong enough to be easily detectable by alien astronomers on Proxima b – an Earth-mass exo-planet that orbits our closest star, 4.23 light-years away”. “Similarly, a 1-megawatt laser, directed through a 45m telescope, would generate a clear signal in any survey conducted by astronomers within the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, a system of seven temperate terrestrial planets located 38.8 light-years from the Earth,” he added. According to Clark, seven planets move around the TRAPPIST-1 and the existence of water has already been proved in three of them, while the other two have very thick atmosphere!
Meanwhile, Director of Indian Centre for Space Physics Sandip Chakrabarti said that the scientists would have to focus at a point or a particular section of the space while sending the laser ray through the telescope. “And that’s the limitation. It would have been better if we could focus at the ‘full sky view’ or the entire sky (or space). It would have increased the possibility of attracting more alien people,” insisted Chakrabarti.


Giant telescope

For his part, Senior Professor at India-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the current Imaging and Spectroscopy technologies would help scientists send message to alien civilisations. “But, we need to concentrate on ‘full sky view’. If we want to contact with aliens living millions of light-years away, then we have to shoot radio laser rays to the space. We also need to ensure that the alien civilisations will see those laser rays,” he stressed.
Both Chakrabarti and Bhattacharya believe that advanced civilisation is definitely there in the universe. If its age is equal to human civilisation, then they can easily identify our laser signals. And if the alien civilisation is better than us, then they can’t understand our signals. However, Chakrabarti is not sure whether the scientists can install telescopes, having lenses with a diameter of 30-45m, by the end of 2030!
It seems that Liu’s dream will come true, soon!

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