Tech & Science Gravitational Waves Could Help Find Secret Alien Worlds

13:57  09 august  2018
13:57  09 august  2018 Source:   thedailybeast.com

Gravitational Waves Could Help Find Secret Alien Worlds

  Gravitational Waves Could Help Find Secret Alien Worlds Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast When physicists announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2016, the discovery sent ripples through the scientific community. Now, in a pre-print article published on arxiv, a group of researchers have their sights set on using gravitational waves to solve that other big problem in astronomy: finding alien planets.

Now, in a pre-print article published on arxiv, a group of researchers have their sights set on using gravitational waves to solve that other big problem in astronomy: finding alien planets. The exoplanets they think they could find would be un-Earth-like, with huge masses

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When physicists announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2016, the discovery sent ripples through the scientific community. Gravitational waves—wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that make space itself stretch as they pass through it—were predicted by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago.

Now, in a pre-print article published on arxiv, a group of researchers have their sights set on using gravitational waves to solve that other big problem in astronomy: finding alien planets.

The exoplanets they think they could find would be un-Earth-like, with huge masses, orbiting close to their stars, and years that last about an hour or less. In other words, these planets would be unlikely to support life.

NASA's biggest-ever hunt for alien planets is finally underway — and the agency expects to discover 'strange, fantastic worlds'

  NASA's biggest-ever hunt for alien planets is finally underway — and the agency expects to discover 'strange, fantastic worlds' NASA launched a new planet-hunting space telescope in April using a SpaceX rocket. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), as the spacecraft is called, could discover thousands of worlds fairly close to Earth.On July 25, TESS - short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - finally slipped into a unique orbit between Earth and the moon. The telescope is now starting to scan 85% of the night sky, stare down distant solar systems, and hunt for small, rocky, Earth-like planets.

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Did gravitational wave detector find dark matter? Even if the later physics is exotic, and hopefully the ability to follow mergers for years [!] should help elucidate more of that. The 1st observation showed that astrophysicists can model near field gravity and event horizons of black holes.

Still, the technique is promising as another tool in our exoplanet-hunting arsenal that could find planets we’ve so far been unable to detect at all.

“Even weak signals could also be detected if the sources are close enough to the Earth,” José Ademir Sales de Lima, one of the authors of the paper, at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, told the Daily Beast.

Lima and his colleagues decided to look at binary systems— double star systems, or a star and a planet—in our own galaxy. They realized that “a special class of exoplanets, the ones with ultra-short periods” could cause gravitational waves strong enough for us to see, he said.

It’s not just mass that affects how strong a gravitational signal an object can make. The shorter period an exoplanet has—that is, the faster it travels around its star—the stronger the gravitational waves it creates. And Lima and his colleagues think that the next generation of detectors could sense gravitational waves coming from exoplanets that travel around their star in an hour or less—as long as they’re close enough to Earth.

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I understand that finding out about gravitational waves will help us find out about the universe and can be applicable to the earth but can you tell me more about what you are actually In this story, Niven's characters discover a gravitional wave communication device on Mars, left by an alien race.

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Current exoplanet-finding methods have some significant blind spots. The transit method, used by NASA’s Kepler mission and responsible for the majority of planet detections to date, requires a planet to orbit in front of its star. Researchers see the traveling speck as proof of an exoplanet’s existence. If a star has a planet that doesn’t cross in front of it from our vantage point, however, we can’t see it, which means we can’t prove its existence.

“While I suspect that detectable systems would be extremely rare, interestingly these systems might have orbital inclinations that would be much less favourable to traditional exoplanet search methods,” Martin Hendry, a professor of gravitational astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Glasgow, told The Daily Beast.

So far, using our normal methods, we’ve found a handful of planets that fit this description. They tend to be gas giants many times the mass of Jupiter and orbit close in to their star, characteristics that have earned them the nickname “hot Jupiters.”

This Solar System Catalogue Could Be Key To Finding An Earth-Like Exoplanet

  This Solar System Catalogue Could Be Key To Finding An Earth-Like Exoplanet By searching for the telltale, periodic dimming of light from distant stars, astronomers can spot orbiting exoplanets tens to hundreds of light years away. But how do they know what these bodies look like? Perhaps they first try to imagine how the planets in our own Solar System might appear to a faraway alien world.A pair of scientists has released a detailed catalogue of the colours, brightness and spectral lines of the bodies in our Solar System. They hope to use the catalogue as a comparison, so when they spot the blip of an exoplanet, they’ll have a better idea of how it actually looks.

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I don’t see a way for gravitational waves to directly help us find extraterrestrial life, but it could tell us more about how black holes and stars form and die, which could in turn tell us about the kinds of conditions some alien planet might on average expect.

The gravitational waves we’ve seen since 2016 have been made by incredibly massive objects—typically, black holes and super dense neutron stars – as they interact. But, technically, anything with  mass can make gravitational waves; most are just far too small to detect.

Today’s state-of-the-art gravitational wave experiments, LIGO and Virgo, consist of large ground-based detectors that use lasers to measure incredibly small changes in space. LIGO is made of two 4km-long L-shaped detectors on either side of the US, with one in Hanford, Washington State, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana. Virgo is similar and sits near Pisa, Italy.

Gravitational waves get weaker the further away they travel from their source, so we could only detect the merging of those faraway black holes because they were so massive and started off with such a strong signal. By the time the first gravitational waves (created during a merger of two black holes 1.3 billion light years away) reached Earth, the amount they stretched space by at our detectors was a fraction of the diameter of a proton.

We’re still a couple of decades out from actually measuring any planets’ gravitational waves. LISA, a space-based detector being developed by NASA and ESA, is not due to launch until 2034. “The possibility that some extreme exoplanetary systems could be gravitational-wave sources accessible to spaceborne detectors such as LISA is an intriguing one,” Hendry said, adding that gravitational waves could make a useful add-on to other search methods.

Gravitational waves from exoplanets would also have a unique feature we’ve not yet seen from any other source: Unlike in the collision of two black holes, the signal from exoplanets would not be a one-time event. They would continually emit gravitational waves as long as the planet kept orbiting its star.

“This class of binary systems is very suitable for continued observation,” Lima said. In other words, however long it takes us to build the detectors to measure those signals, they’ll be there waiting for us.

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