ET can also connect nearby red dwarfs using Dyson Spheres

If extraterrestrial intelligent life is out there — and everyone and their brothers think so now — it could hypothetically be a few billion years before us.

In the current hunt for techno-signatures — the hunt for large-scale alien astro-engineering projects has been given a catchy new name, a hypothetical Dyson Sphere harnesses the energy of a given star in ways we can only imagine. First proposed by the late British-American physicist Freeman Dyson, such spheres could conceivably be used for supercomputers, artificial habitats, spacecraft propulsion or advanced interstellar communication.

If a Swedish astronomer is right, intelligent aliens wouldn’t even choose to harness energy from the star they live on. Since about 75 percent of the stars in the Milky Way are M-type red dwarfs, ET may be harnessing the energy of one of these smaller nearby stars even as we speak.

During a recent visit to Stockholm to find out more, astronomer Erik Jakrisson of Uppsala University in Sweden sat down with me to discuss his latest thoughts on the matter.

Currently, Jackrisson and one of his doctoral students are searching the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia star catalog and infrared star catalogs for Tyson Sphere candidates.

Jakrisen and Uppsala University doctoral student Matthias Suaso are submitting a journal article. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).. They started with the nearest 5 million stars and have now flagged 10 faint, red dwarf stars as potential candidates for reaching Dyson spheres. None are well-known objects. But their next paper will describe follow-up observations of these candidate stars.

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Why might aliens choose to use a red dwarf?

The first reason, they estimate, is a lifetime of tens of billions to tens of billions of years. As such, they represent an energy source that can transcend the age of the universe.

Zachrison told me that they might use a red dwarf because it’s nearby.

How do you search for Dyson Spheres?

They appear dim in optical and bright in infrared; That’s the first prize, says Jackrison. The problem is that natural astronomical objects work the same way, he says. The most common type is a young star because they glow in the infrared and are embedded in dust that blocks some of the star’s optical light, he says.

Some argue that aliens don’t waste anything, says Jackrison. But as we understand the laws of thermodynamics, he says, when you convert one form of energy into another, you always end up with a waste product. A Tyson sphere must somehow get rid of this waste energy, says Zachrison. The most natural way for this to happen is through dark matter radiation (infrared heat emission), he says.

What is the most difficult part of finding a Dyson Sphere?

This is the problem with Dyson spheres; You’re looking for outliers in astronomical data, says Zachrison. „It’s hard to convince you that it’s a Dyson sphere, but rather extreme astrophysics that we’ve never seen before,” he says.

A Dyson sphere appears as a pure continuum in the infrared; In other words, there are no extremes in its spectrum.

If you have access to NASA’s Webb Space Telescope, you can get infrared spectra to see if the peaks are there or not, says Jackrison. If there are peaks, it can be dismissed as dust, he says.

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Design a search that is beneficial to astronomy, no matter the outcome

If you’re not finding Dyson spheres or database anomalies, you’re at least finding extreme astrophysics, says Zachrison, so astronomy can benefit. Doing this research with existing databases is cheap and easy, but it’s also very time-consuming, he says.

You want the AI ​​to do most of the pruning of your model so you don’t have to look at so many candidates yourself, says Jackrison. It may be a slow process, but we don’t have to do it all at once, he says.

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