Gravity can be used to transfer energy between the stars and create an interstellar internet!

Gravity can be used to transfer energy between the stars and create an interstellar internet!

The intense gravity of a black hole changes the paths of light

(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman)

Losing a battery or network is terrible enough when you’re outside, but it would be a million times more terrible when it inevitably happens in outer space as a space-faring society. If your spacecraft breaks down, you won’t always have a nearby planet to call a tow service.

The main solution to this future problem would be to create a large interstellar network available 24/7. Think of the Internet, but on an unimaginably larger scale!

While this is certainly an issue for the distant future, we have already established the scientific basis for it. Our secret weapon for accomplishing such a huge feat will include knowledge pioneered by none other than Albert Einstein himself!

In an attempt to explain how gravity affects the universe, Einstein put forward his revolutionary theory of general relativity a century ago. This also gave rise to the concept of gravitational lensing, a phenomenon by which the gravitational fields of massive objects can bend and amplify light approaching them. The reason you see a bright, rotating ring around images of black holes — like in the movie Interstellar — is also because of gravitational lensing.

The potential to alter long-range signals such as light is enormous, as it opens the way for information to be transmitted across distances previously considered unimaginable. Once we can reliably share data from star to star using gravitational lensing, we could theoretically begin to create a kind of intergalactic Internet, which the researchers are exploring in their latest study.

The team hypothesizes that if we could position a spacecraft around the focal region of a solar gravitational lens (SGL), we could, in theory, amplify light from exoplanets and other faint planets, sending the information to other star systems. A potential problem could be blurring of the data as it traverses interstellar space, but researchers have already shown that it is theoretically possible to achieve a workable signal-to-noise ratio.

Second, we may be able to condense the energy we receive from astral sources and send it remotely to other cosmic bodies. Space solar energy has been considered one of the most ideal ways to generate clean energy. If we can create enough infrastructure, we may be able to use SGLs to send energy from system to system, and deeper into interstellar space than ever before.

While there are certainly a lot of topics that need to be carefully studied to turn this theory into reality, researchers remain optimistic. After all, ticking off the long list of tasks will help us explore and colonize interstellar space in ways we couldn’t before.

The results of this research have been published in the journal Preprint and can be accessed here.


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