Physicists have discovered that an alien can indeed call home, and it must also have excellent reception.
A new study has shown that sending messages across interstellar space using quantum communication is possible.
A team from the University of Edinburgh performed calculations on the movement of X-rays through the void of space to see if they would encounter any obstacles.
Quantum particles, such as photons of light, are fragile and can easily break apart if they encounter any interference, such as from a gravitational field.
However, it has been found that the quanta can survive by traveling at least hundreds of thousands of light-years – a greater distance than the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Extraterrestrial life can send messages across interstellar space using quantum communication, physicists at the University of Edinburgh have discovered.
Quantum communication systems are faster and more secure than conventional networks because they use photons rather than computer code. The absence of obstacles in space means that messages can be transmitted at distances of at least hundreds of thousands of light years.
DOES OUTER LIFE EXIST?
No life outside of Earth has ever been discovered; there is no evidence that alien life has ever visited our planet.
However, this does not mean that the Universe is lifeless, except on Earth, according to NASA.
The space agency says: “Although no clear signs of life have been found, the possibility of extraterrestrial biology – the scientific logic that supports it – is becoming increasingly plausible.”
One popular view is that our own existence is evidence that there is definitely life on other planets, since the probability that the Earth is a “single copy” is almost zero.
However, one argument against this is: if there is extraterrestrial life, why haven’t we found any evidence of it?
Over the past few years, scientists around the world have been conducting research using quantum communication here on Earth.
Quantum technology uses the effects of quantum physics—the nature of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels—to advance communications.
Quantum communication systems are faster and more secure than conventional networks because they use photons rather than a computer code that can be cracked.
There is hope that technology can provide “Unhackable” high-speed internet in future.
However, the biggest hurdle to realizing quantum systems is how prone they are to “decoherence.”
This is when a quantum particle loses some or all of its unique characteristics when interacting with its environment.
Potential obstacles include the gravitational field of large planets or stars, cosmic dust, solar winds, and other particles contained in the interstellar medium.
In an article published last month in Physical overview Dphysicists describe their calculations proving that quantum particles can propagate over large interstellar distances.
They used astronomical data and mathematical models to describe the motion of X-rays between about a hundred relatively nearby exoplanets and Earth.
It was concluded that this distance would probably not be a big obstacle for the quanta.
This is largely due to the “cleaner” environment in space than on Earth, since the average density of matter is much less.
Therefore, the probability that a quantum particle is thrown off course when moving through space is much lower.
The researchers wrote: “It is likely that photon-mediated quantum coupling can be established at interstellar distances, in particular for photons in the X-ray range below the mass of an electron.”
They noted that along with X-rays, photons of microwaves and optical light are also possible.
The quants are also still limited in that they can only travel at the speed of light, 186,282 miles per second, which means it will take years to cover interplanetary distances.
According to the researchers, the level of information that quantums can safely transmit at high speeds could make it a viable method of communicating with other life forms.
The researchers say there are currently no known objects that naturally transmit quantum messages that could be mistaken for alien signals.
But deciphering them would require a powerful quantum computer on Earth, and we would have to make assumptions about the encryption codes.
The quanta are also still limited in that they can only travel at the speed of light, 186,282 miles per second, meaning that messages will still take years to cover interplanetary distances.
This is currently just a guess, but the study does give experts another sign of life to look out for.
Quantum teleportation has also been proposed as a potential way to send quantum information “emitted from an extraterrestrial civilization”.
This is where the properties of a distant particle can be transmitted to another through space, and this requires both classical and quantum signals.
The physicists wrote that extraterrestrial life might prefer this as it “might provide a better signature for detection”, and any scientists in search must test both.
They added: “In principle, it should be possible to detect a quantum signal coming from an astrophysical body, or even an intelligent signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.”
KEY DISCOVERIES IN HUMANITY’S SEARCH FOR FOREIGN LIFE
Discovery of pulsars
British astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was the first person to discover a pulsar in 1967 when she spotted a radio pulsar.
Since then, other types of pulsars have been discovered that emit X-rays and gamma rays.
Pulsars are essentially spinning, highly magnetized neutron stars, but when they were first discovered, it was thought they could come from aliens.
“Wow!” radio signal
In 1977, an astronomer looking for alien life in the Ohio night sky noticed a radio signal so powerful that he excitedly wrote, “Wow!” next to his data.
In 1977, an astronomer looking for alien life in the Ohio night sky noticed a radio signal so powerful that he excitedly wrote, “Wow!” next to his data
The 72-second explosion, seen by Dr. Jerry Eyman through a radio telescope, was from Sagittarius but did not match any known celestial object.
Conspiracy theorists have since argued that “Wow! signal, which was 30 times stronger than the background radiation, was a message from intelligent aliens.
Fossilized Martian Microbes
In 1996, NASA and the White House made a big announcement that the rock contained traces of Martian bugs.
The meteorite, cataloged as Allen Hills (ALH) 84001, fell into the frozen wastelands of Antarctica 13,000 years ago and was discovered in 1984.
Photographs were released showing elongated, segmented objects that appeared startlingly lifelike.
Photographs have been released showing elongated, segmented objects that look startlingly lifelike (pictured).
However, the excitement did not last long. Other scientists wondered if the meteorite samples were contaminated.
They also argued that the heat released when the rock was ejected into space could create mineral structures that could be mistaken for microfossils.
Tubby Star behavior in 2005
The star, also known as KIC 8462852, lies 1,400 light-years away and has baffled astronomers since its discovery in 2015.
It is dimming much faster than other stars, which some experts believe is a sign that aliens are harnessing the star’s energy.
The star, also known as KIC 8462852, is 1,400 light-years away and has been baffling astronomers since its discovery in 2015 (artist’s impression).
Recent research has “eliminated the possibility of an alien megastructure” and instead suggests that the dust ring may have been causing strange signals.
Exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone in 2017
In February 2017, astronomers announced they had discovered a star system with planets that could support life as little as 39 light-years away.
Seven Earth-like planets have been discovered orbiting the dwarf star Trappist-1, and each of them could have water on the surface, one of the key components of life.
The three planets are in such good conditions that, according to scientists, life could already have developed on them.
The researchers say they’ll know if there’s life on any of the planets within a decade and say, “This is just the beginning.”