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Aliens Might Be Moving Stars to Communicate With Us

Rosette Nebula. Image credit: CFHT
You’ve got to love the audacity of this idea. In a recent article at Discover Magazine, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier (you know, the guy with the dreadlocks) proposes that we get working on repositioning nearby stars to form geometric patterns – or at least start looking for places that it’s already been done by aliens.

Move stars around into patterns? That’s pretty crazy stuff. Sure, but there isn’t any physical reason why it isn’t possible; it happens all the time when galaxies collide. Of course, a spray of stars hurled into intergalactic space at random is different from a great big peace sign.

In order to actually move a star requires a gravitational tractor, and engineers are already planning this kind of a mission for a threat closer to home: asteroids. By flying a spacecraft near an asteroid, and fighting against the gravity pulling it down, you can actually pull the asteroid off course. Over a long period of time, you can move the asteroid enough in its orbit to prevent it from striking the Earth.

So scale that idea up. Send out a fleet of these spacecraft to tinker with the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects. These objects could rain into the inner Solar System and prod the Sun’s motion through the galaxy. Over a long period of time (a really really long period of time), you could impart enough of a velocity change to drive your star anywhere you wanted it to go.

With this technique, and a few million years to time to kill, you could line up stars into a formation that shows an intelligence was behind it. The more stars you put into formation, the better your message will be.

One interesting suggestion, made to Lanier by Piet Hut at the Institute for Advanced Study is a multiply nested binary system. Imagine binary systems, orbiting binary systems, orbiting binary systems. With 16 stars in formation, you’d have a shape that mother nature would never arrange on her own, but would be stable for long periods of time. From long distances, astronomers wouldn’t be able to resolve the individual stars, but they’d definitely know something strange was going on.

The advantage to this, of course, is that stars are visible for tremendous distances. Why bother sending out puny radio signals when you can harness the energy of an entire star.

Physicists predict that civilizations will eventually advance to the point that they master all the energy of their home planet, their star system, and eventually their entire galaxy. And if you’re harnessing every watt of energy pouring out of every star in the galaxy, who’d miss a little extra energy being used for communications.

So, uh… let’s get on that.

Original Source: Discover Magazine


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tony Trenton` February 25, 2008, 5:44 AM

    Gil! And have more space junk littering the Cosmos?

  • The Vision February 25, 2008, 6:59 AM

    Technically why would Aliens go as far as moving this star or that star formation just to send us a message…if they were that advance they would have landed here long time ago. And while we are on the subject why would any alien come from afar all the way to earth and don’t communicate. That would seem very idiotic. So the form of message I would say would be some sort of frequencies, inwhich are vast. Seti continue to do what you do and you will one day here this….”Is there anyone out there?”

  • mukundarao February 25, 2008, 8:16 AM

    I am seeing everyday or day by day in night
    at 7.00pm to 8.30,some stars are going on from one place to another place, i think it is amazing

  • LLDIAZ February 25, 2008, 5:29 PM

    Why don’t dreadlocks and science mix. I bet you most of those same scientist smoked more then any rasta I’ve ever met.

  • korak 12 February 26, 2008, 8:44 AM

    I think what the person who came up with this concept is doing is trying to get us to think outside the box more than anything else.

    Besides, some day this galaxy will be reconfigured by an intelligent species, whether it be us or someone else.

  • Sully February 26, 2008, 11:03 AM

    Look for weapons effects and engineering projects. The most powerful signal we have sent was that 50 megaton fusion bomb the Russians set off. The most powerful signal we will see from an alien intelligence will be something like a million light year long beam being used to sterilize an area of space whose inhabitants have a different view about religion or something.

  • willy the impeached February 26, 2008, 1:17 PM

    Great! I’ve been looking for a way to give Han Solo the finger!

  • Laurence Topliffe February 26, 2008, 9:17 PM

    In a book entitled How to Know God, which is a translation of The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, it tells how to perform the things Jesus did that were called miracles, and more. It turns out that Jesus was a yogi and any yogi can do that and anyone can become a yogi. Since this is Man’s fully developed state, and I doubt if we are the only intelligent beings in an infinite universe, it seems that there might be beings out there somewhere who are at that state or were or are involved in a program to develop that state. If being able to do the things Jesus did incluce the ability to move mountains, then why not planets and stars? Sounds logical to me. Do search for “yogic flying.”

  • procyon February 27, 2008, 1:36 AM

    **By the time you have the technology to move stars, you won’t have to.**

    Very much agreed.

  • alphonso richardson February 27, 2008, 8:18 AM

    Intersteller bar billiards? Sounds good to me……………………..

  • LLDIAZ February 27, 2008, 5:42 PM

    This sounds just a bit too crazy for me!!!!!

  • Sakib March 9, 2008, 4:05 AM

    The star cluster NGC 2169 is in the shape of the number, 37. So what if the aliens are trying to tell us the meaning of life is 37?

  • Vesna April 13, 2008, 1:48 PM

    On this level of sophistication you move stars just for fun, or as an act of art…star-art or black- hole-art. Maybe when an abstract artist dies here on Earth, his/her soul goes up, up in the sky where ETs wait for them and give them different tasks, for ex. to move stars and make some beautiful shapes to signal us that we are not alone. That’s it! I’m going to dig a big big hole, fill it with water and try to catch a neutrino. And then I’ll know. The truth is everywhere around us we just have to find it. Yes, a yoga master told me that while we were contemplating the meaning of life.

  • Chuck Lam May 20, 2008, 4:06 PM

    Lanier and Hut must be wacked out on drugs. Moving stars around! Gawd, what are these guys thinking? On a similar matter concerning SETI, this organization is pissing in the wind. They are wasting their time and money searching for a modulated radio signal transmitted by an alien intelligence. Don’t they know (high-school physics) that a modulated radio transmission diminishes dramatically with distance traveled. There may be a fraction of a femto-watt left from a million watt signal to detect after after traveling a light year or two through dust, gas and whatever else is in space. Try detecting a femto-watt against a background of universal noise. It is a bit like trying to find a burning candle on the surface of our sun. It can’t be done. And a modulated coherent laser is just as useless for galactic communication. Where would you aim a laser? As for man colonizing something outside the solar system, that aint going to happen either. The reality is that man is simply too mentally and physically fragile for a multi-generation trip anywhere; not to mention the problem of staying alive on a hostile planet.