Aliens Could Be Sucking Energy from Black Holes – And That Might Help Us Find Them

  • It might just be a theory, but as far as theories go, it’s a pretty cool one.

Aliens have been making a lot of headlines in the last couple of months, from the weird monoliths to a Trump-extraterrestrial conspiracy, and space garbage. We thought this was just another bizarre 2020 thing but nope – the news just keep on coming.

But for a change, no one’s claiming that little green men have visited Earth. This time it’s about a new observation that scientists think might help us locate an alien civilization.

At the crux of it all are science fiction’s favorite deep space horrors – the black holes. In case you didn’t pay attention in school, here’s a (probably depressingly simplistic) refresher.

Black holes are regions in space, created by collapsing stars, that have such a massive gravitational force that even light can’t escape them. Basically, they suck things in and never let go, crushing all matter into one infinitely dense point.

So by layman’s logic, whatever goes into a black hole doesn’t come out. But now astrophysicists are saying that aliens might be sucking energy out of black holes – and that could be just the thing that helps us find them.

So how the heck does that work? Let’s find out.

The Physics of Black Hole Sucking

The new study, published in the journal Physical Review D, suggests that black holes could actually work as nearly limitless energy sources. Such advanced technology is far beyond the knowledge of humanity – we’d first need to figure out a way to cross the 1,000 light years of space to the nearest black hole.

But some alien species could have figured out how to do it.

Luca Comisso, an astrophysicist from Columbia University in New York and the study’s co-author, says that the aliens might be making use of something called the Penrose process. Basically, this theory posits that particles break into two when they’re rotating very close to a black hole.

One part of such particles would then fall into the ergosphere. That is, a chaotic region of space time just outside the black hole’s event horizon – otherwise known as the “point of no return.”

“Because the black hole rotates so fast, it drags space-time around like a vortex,” Comisso told Live Science.

Based on the scientists’ calculations, objects falling into the ergosphere could have negative energy. This phenomenon can’t occur anywhere else in the universe.

“This is the only tiny region where this can happen,” Comisso said.

He continues that adding a particle of negative energy into a black hole basically equals to extracting energy from it. That’s because the second half of the particle – charged with positive energy – shoots out from the black hole’s gravitational pull.

The aliens could then capture these particles, effectively sucking energy out of the black hole.

This is going a bit over our heads, but we’ll just take the researchers’ word for it.

Work to Be Done

As they harvest the positive particles, aliens could be leaving behind plasma, the researchers suggest. Plasma is not actually just some scifi mumbo jumbo – it’s a superheated form of charged gas.

Scientists have already observed flares of plasma around some black holes. They now theorize that at least some of them could be remnants of alien energy harvesting.

However, that’s all just theory at the moment. The scientists say that the next step now would be to figure out what actual signs the aliens would leave in space as they suck on black holes’ sweet juices.

“We have only done the physics in this paper, 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,” said Comisso.

He added that since this new theory has been formulated, it can be tested against alternative theories on how energy extraction from black holes could work.

“In the future, people will do supercomputer simulations [of energy extraction theories] and there could be a comparison. But at the moment, it is not clear,” Comisso said.

Apart from alien hunting, there are also other possible scientific advances that Comisso’s new theory could bring forth. Among them are figuring out the spin rate of black holes and quantifying the energy plasma jets near event horizons give off.

But really, clearly the focus should be on finding the aliens.

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