While a combination of high-powered laser and a large telescope might help attract the attention of extraterrestrial species searching for signs of life in the galaxy, it may also pose a health risk to observers and spacecraft alike.
A new study conducted by an MIT graduate student named James Clark postulates that the existing laser technology could be used to create a “planetary porch light” capable of attracting the attention of alien astronomers from as far as 20,000 light years away, according to MIT News Office.
The findings, detailed in The Astrophysical Journal, reveal that a combination of a high-powered laser focused through a massive 30- to 45-meter telescope aimed into outer space “would produce a beam of infrared radiation strong enough to stand out from the sun’s energy” which could be detected by entities on other planets performing “a cursory survey of our section of the Milky Way.”
“If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years,” Clark said.
He noted however that such laser beam could damage people’s vision if they were to look directly at it, as well as potentially scramble any cameras aboard spacecraft that happen to pass through it.