Aliens could be powering their societies by harvesting energy from black holes, a bombshell new study has claimed.
A scientific research team say extraterrestrials could, theoretically, use a hypothetical megastructure called a Dyson sphere, which would encircle a star with a tight formation of orbiting platforms in order to capture starlight and produce power.
Not only do the top scientific team say this sort of incredible technology could be possible – but they believe it could radiate in a peculiar enough way to allow telescopes on Earth to discover the existence of aliens.
In 1960, physicist and astronomer Freeman J. Dyson proposed to use orbiting solar collectors to harness all of a star or sun’s energy – coining the giant megastructure necessary to do so a Dyson sphere.
The research team, led by astronomer Tiger Yu-Yang Hsiao of National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, looked at whether one of these could actually be built around a black hole instead of a star in their paper ‘A Dyson sphere around a black hole’ published in July in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In the study they looked at the possible emission from the accretion disk around a black hole, its corona, and even relativistic jets emitted by the black hole.
“Usually, accretion disks can provide 10,000 and even more times the energy you would get from a star like the Sun,” Hsiao told IFLScience. “So instead of hunting 10,000 stars like our Sun, we can just find one black hole and build a Dyson sphere around it and it would be much more efficient.”
Not only that, but the team say building a Dyson sphere around a black hole rather than a star would “save a lot of material” as black holes are so much smaller.
Aliens could place a large satellite in a stable orbit around a black hole to collect X-ray energy using something similar to solar panels, study coauthor Tomotsugu Goto, also of National Tsing Hua University, told Live Science.
The team now plans to trawl through billions of objects cataloged by NASA’s space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii to see if they can spot the tell-tale signs of existing Dyson spheres.
They say the energy reradiated from the structures would be shifted to longer wavelengths, so a Dyson sphere around a black hole might give off an unexplainable energy signature in ultraviolet or infrared.
“Black holes are one of the brightest objects in the sky,” Professor Hsiao told Live Science.
He added: “If it can really be found, I would feel ecstatic.”