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Halo Drive: Laser and Black Rope Can Launch Spaceships at the Nearest Speed ​​of Light



Future aircraft can use black holes as a powerful launch pad to explore the stars.

A new study indicates the firing of laser beams that can curb into a black hole and come back with extra energy to help extend a spacecraft near the speed of light. Astronomers may look for signs that alien civilization uses such a "halo drive," as learning dubs it, by looking at whether the pairs of black holes are merging more often than expected.

Study author David Kipping, an astrophysicist at Columbia University in New York, came up with the idea of ​​the halo drive by what he calls "gamers' mindset." Related: Visions of Interstellar Starship Travel (Gallery) [1

9659002] "Once, in a computer game you find a & # 39; exploitation, & # 39; a hack that permits you have to do something superficial which can be forbidden by the rules of the game, "told Kipping Space.com. "In this case, the game is the physical world, and I tried to think about exploits that would allow a civilization to achieve relativistic flying back and forth without the vast expense of energy that one might assume . "

A The main challenge in using rocket to fly in space was the propellant they brought to them had a mass. Long trips require a lot of propellants, making the rocket heavy, which requires more propellants, making the Rockets heavier, and more. That problem is getting worse as the rocket gets bigger.

Instead of carrying a propellant for function, however, spacecraft with sails like sails can rely on lasers to push them out. The $ 100 million Breakthrough Starshot initiative announced in 2016, plans to use powerful lasers to adopt spacecraft swarms at Alpha Centauri, the closest star system of ours, up to 20 percent the speed of light. [19659002] The Breakthrough Starshot spacecraft is aimed at launching each one just about the size of a microchip. To speed up larger spaceships with relativistic speed – at a significant part of light speed – Kipping sought the aid of gravity.

Spacecraft now regularly uses "catapult maneuvers," where gravity of a body, like a planet or moon, hurls the vessels into space and boosts their speed. In 1963, renowned physicist Freeman Dyson proposed that spaceship of any size could rely on temporary maneuvers around compact pairs of white dwarfs or neutron stars to fly at relativistic speed. (Dyson came in the notion of what became known as a Dyson Sphere a megastructure that encapsulates a star to capture as much energy as it can not to power an advanced civilization. )

However, a "Dyson slingshot" runs the risk of damaging a spacecraft through intense forces of gravitational and dangerous radiation from pairs of dead stars. Instead, Kipping implies that gravity can help spaceships by increasing the energy of laser beams fired on the edges of black holes.

Black holes contain gravitational fields that are very powerful without escape them when it gets close enough, not even light. Their gravitational fields can also ignore the paths of light photons that have not fallen into the holes.

In 1993, physical physicist Mark Stuckey indicates that a black hole may, in principle, act like a "gravitational mirror" gravity of the black hole could catapult a photon around so it flew back to its origins. Kipping calculates that if a black hole moves towards a photon source, the "photon boom" will sip a few of the black holes of energy. Related: No Escape: Dive into a Black Hole (Infographic)

With what he calls "halo drive" – ​​named for the ring of light to do Its around a black hole – Found that kipping even spaceships in the mass of Jupiter can achieve relativistic speed. "A civilization can exploit black holes as galactic waypoints," he wrote in a study accepted by the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and elsewhere online on February 28 at the arXiv preprint server.

black hole moves, more energy a halo drive can draw from it. As a result, Kipping focuses on the use of black hole pairs appearing in the first one.

Astronomers may look for signs that alien civilization exploits pairs of black holes for travel with this engine. For example, the halo drives will effectively steal power from such binary black holes systems which adds rates where pairs of black holes incorporate what is expected of the natural See, Kipping said.

His findings are based on strengthening from pairs of black holes uniting one of the relativistic pace. Although there are approximately 10 million pairs of black holes in the Milky Way, Kipping said that some of those who are likely to be orbited in relativistic speeds of time, because they are fast together.

However, he noted that isolated, spinning black holes could also launch halo drives at relativistic speed, "and we know many examples of relativistic, round supermassive black holes."

The main drawback of a halo drive is that "one is to travel to the nearest black hole," Kipping said. "It's like paying a one-time paid toll ride on the highway system. You need to pay some energy to reach the nearest access point, but then you can ride for free as long as you do not."

The halo drive works just near a black hole, at a distance of about five to 50 times the width of the black hole. "This is why you need to travel to the nearest black hole first and [why you] can not do it throughout the light-years of space," Kipping says. "We are still the first one needing a way to travel to nearby stars to ride on the highway system."

"If we want to achieve relativistic flight, it takes an immense level of energy no matter what system function you are using," he added. to get around this is the use of astronomical objects as your source of power, as they have literally astronomical energy levels within them. In this case, the binary black-hole is essentially a giant battery waiting for us to tap it. The idea is to work in nature and not against it. "

Kipping is now investigating ways to exploit other astronomical systems for relativistic flight. Such techniques" can not be an efficient or fast way of halo-drive, but these are the system has the deepest energy reserves required for these trips, "says Kipping.

Follow Charles Q. Choi on Twitter @cqchoi Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom at Facebook .


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