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ET could be harvesting energy from black holes

January 28, 2021 | Comment icon 25 comments

Black holes could be an invaluable source of energy. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A new study has suggested that we may be able to pick up the telltale signs of this process from light years away.
The idea of looking for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations by trying to find evidence of their technology - so-called 'technosignatures' - has been explored several times over the years.

Some scientists have speculated that we might be able to see huge alien megastructures in space - objects of such potentially enormous scale that they can be observed with a telescope.

The Dyson Sphere - a theoretical structure built to encompass an entire star - is one such possibility, but now scientists have come up with another possible indicator of extraterrestrial technology that we might be able to detect from Earth and it is all to do with harnessing energy from black holes.

According to the study's authors, technology capable of doing this may leave traces just outside the black hole's event horizon that we could see from Earth - that is if we can figure out what to look for.

"We have only done the physics in this paper," said study co-author and astrophysicist Luca Comisso of Columbia University. "But I am now working with a colleague of mine to apply this to reality, to look for civilizations, to try to see what kind of signal you would need to look for."
50 years ago, mathematical physicist Roger Penrose put forward the notion that there exists a viable mechanism through which a sufficiently advanced civilization could generate power from a black hole by taking advantage of its rotational energy.

The key to this idea lies in the region just outside of a black hole's event horizon where space-time becomes twisted as it's dragged along by the rotation of the black hole - a phenomenon known as frame-dragging.

According to Penrose, if an object is dropped into the region where these forces are greatest, it would be split in two, with one half being thrown beyond the event horizon and the other being accelerated outwards with around 21% more energy than it had when it started.

If such a thing is actually possible and someone somewhere has figured out how to do this, it could potentially serve as the most prominent indicator yet that we are not alone in the universe.

Perhaps one day in the distant future, it's a method that we may even be capable of doing ourselves.

Source: Live Science | Comments (25)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by onlookerofmayhem 10 months ago
https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a26008921/scientists-experiments-hawking-radiation/ "We all know black holes theoretically suck in everything, even light, but itís not technically true that nothing can ever escape them. If that were the case, black holes would violate the laws of thermodynamics. Everything in the universe needs to radiate heat, and black holes are no exception. But exactly how they radiated heat was a bit of a mystery, until Hawking."
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hyperionxvii 10 months ago
We can be certain that the cost for that is very trivial compared to the trillion dollar+ boondoggles they regularly engage in.†
Comment icon #18 Posted by razman 10 months ago
Is that what they been doin?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 8 months ago
Just fire lasers at it. The right time and the right spot, the laser will bend around the black hole and come back with more energy than it fired.
Comment icon #20 Posted by jmccr8 8 months ago
Hi Ponch How would you collect/harness the energy from the laser? jmccr8
Comment icon #21 Posted by L.A.T.1961 8 months ago
It would require the ability to collect energy at an efficiency level that is at least as good as creating the beam in the first place. Black holes are not that common and it might require a long journey to get close enough to make a black hole work to make power.† It could be that a civilisation with the technology to journey to a black hole does not need it for power?
Comment icon #22 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 8 months ago
I dont know, im not a alien, am I?
Comment icon #23 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 8 months ago
IMO if they do, it means these technicalities has already been solved.
Comment icon #24 Posted by DingoLingo 8 months ago
the mistake a lot of people make is that a dyson sphere generates power.. it doesnt.. it is meant to capture all the energy escaping the sun Though.. you could do the same job really using a dyson swarm instead.. basically cover a lot of the area around the sun with satellites to capture the solar radiation etc.. and beam it back to the earth using microwaves.. that would throw us into a K2 civilization..† † well.. it wont bend around the black hole.. though it depends on how close you wish to get to the accretion disc†.. it would curve around it.. but then you also have the atoms swirling aro... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Hankenhunter 8 months ago
Words have power. Pure thought is magnitudes more power. Its good to see the seeds planted.†

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