Lasers, space, ET and long-distance communication oh my!

So the other day the article 'No extraterrestrial laser pulses detected from KIC 8462852, SETI reports' came out and I got a little curious about how wide a laser's beam would be by the time it got here. 

First we need to figure out how quickly a laser spreads as it travels a distance, fortunately someone else already did this work. The Lunar Laser Ranging experiment let's me know that a laser shined from earth is about 6.5 kilometers wide.

  • IC 8462852 is approximately 454 parsecs from Earth
  • The moon is about 238,900 miles from Earth
  • A parsec is 19,173,511,600,000 miles
  • 1 parsec is 80257478.4429 x farther than the moon
  • KIC 8462852 about 36,436,895,213.1 farther than the mooon

So a beam from a laser similar to the on used for the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment, sent at us from something 454 parsecs away would be something like 236,839,818,885 km wide/147,165,440,629.8467 miles wide. Or 1 parsec away would be 521,673,609.879 km wide/324,152,952.929.

That means the beam from that a hypothetical laser from KIC 8462852 would be 1583.1x wider than the distance from the earth to the sun by the time it got to us!

Ahem. But wait, there's more!

Let's take something from my problem with time travel, the fact that the Earth is moving through the solar system, the solar system through the galaxy and the galaxy through the universe, essentially in different directions. 

Ok so 1 parsec is 3.26156 light years, and that system is about 454 parsecs away meaning that light has been traveling about 1481 years to get to us which means our solar system has moved 557,863,080,000 miles through our galaxy in the 1481 years since the hypothetical laser left KIC 8462852, which means if it was truly aimed at us they'd have to be thinking where we'd be in 1481 years as light travels straight (ignoring very large gravity sources curving it) and wouldn't be rotating around the galaxy. There's likely also some variation in speed of our star and KIC 8462852 traveling through our galaxy.



Manned Mission to Mars


So today I learned about Mars One ( ), it's a private company with plans to send a communication satellite to the planet by 2016 and after several stages, finally land humans on Mars for permanent settlement in 2023 with a population of 20 settlers by 2033. So out of curiosity I wondered just how many manned missions to Mars have been planned...

Um, it's been planned a LOT ( ). One of them ( Space Exploration Initiative ) would have happened but it would have cost 500 billion over 20-30 years and also put a permanent colony on the lunar surface... congress said no, so it was proposed as a world project and everyone said no... we should do it, hell we've already spent it and then some in Iraq/Afghanistan... for example the website Cost of War has the U.S. already having spent 1.36 TRILLION on the War on Terror efforts.

Figure 500 billion now (if not less, because of private industry now) so 25 billion a year for 20 years... shared by say the U.S. and China so 12.5 billion a year... that's nothing compared to what we spend on war! Get other countries to chip in, get corporate sponsorship... we could do it in 10-15 years!


 If only the space industry had as deep pockets for lobbyists as the war industry...

This week in space

Sorry for not doing one of these in a while folks.


SpaceX private rocket blasts off for space station

I've been waiting for this launch for quite some time. I'm glad it finally launched, once it reaches the ISS in a few days new history will be made, private space exploration (well ok not exploring anything but it is a step in the right direction).

The SpaceX company made history as its Falcon 9 rocket rose from its seaside launch pad and pierced the pre-dawn sky, aiming for a rendezvous later this week with the space station. The rocket carried into orbit a capsule named Dragon that is packed with 1,000 pounds of space station provisions.

It is the first time a private company has launched a vessel to the space station. That's something only major governments have done - until the present test flight. Launch controllers applauded when the Dragon reached orbit 9 minutes into the flight.

Read more HERE


Three-telescope interferometry allows astrophysicists to observe how black holes are fueled

I don't really see any practical use for this, understanding black holes isn't really something we need to know right now but something cool might be discovered with this instrument.

By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team has observed the active accretion phase of a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, a method that has yielded an unprecedented amount of data for such observations. The resolution at which they were able to observe this highly luminescent active galactic nucleus (AGN) has given them direct confirmation of how mass accretes onto black holes in centers of galaxies.

Read more HERE


Kepler satellite telescope reveals hundreds of superflares on distant stars

A BILLION times as powerful as those are sun produces... wow.

Here on Earth we are occasionally concerned about solar flares due to the impact they can have on our electrical systems. But our solar flares are puny when compared to so-called superflares that occur with other stars. A new research study by a team from Japan’s Kyoto University has found after studying one patch of sky over a 120 day period in 1990 using data from the Kepler telescope, that superflares are rather common, and as they describe in their paper published in the journal Nature, some are a billion times as powerful as those that occur with our own sun.

Read more HERE


Hubble spies edge-on beauty

Here is your beautiful image of the week!

Visible in the constellation of Andromeda, NGC 891 is located approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope turned its powerful wide field Advanced Camera for Surveys towards this spiral galaxy and took this close-up of its northern half. The galaxy's central bulge is just out of the image on the bottom left.

Read more HERE

This week in space: special post

Earth Has a Second Moon, Astronomers Say

In a research paper called "The population of natural Earth satellites", astronomers say that Earth has a second moon at any given time. While these moons are small, the scientific implications of this discovery are phenomenal.

Think about it: instead of having to send crews to asteroids, now we know that they come to us—they orbit Earth and we can intercept them to learn more about the origins of our solar system. All with a small price tag.


Interesting, however how do they know it wasn't an ET craft?

Read more HERE