Halo Drive: Double black hole system for interstellar travel

An Ivy League astronomer claims that humans may be able to extract energy from a double black hole system through a new method called a halo drive, enabling a fuel-free interstellar journey.

The astronomer named David Kiping, from Columbia University said that in theory aliens may have used this technology without our knowledge. The principle that the halo drive pushes the spacecraft is mainly to use the “gravitational mirror” to absorb the energy of the black hole. A gravitation mirror is a region of a black hole that, after phagocytizing a substance, ejects the material in the same direction.

“Searching for intelligent life in the universe is often carried out under the guidance of possible activities of hypothetical advanced civilization and the possible technical characteristics that may arise from it,” David Kiping published in the preprint journal on February 28th. The website arXiv’s paper writes, “In these directions, this study considers the possibility of an advanced civilization using the concept of light sail for relativistic efficient advancement.”

Scientists have observed that when photons enter the area of the gravitational mirror and are subsequently shot back, they not only gain speed from the journey but also retain some of the kinetic energy. David Kiping said that by using these returned photons – called “winding darts photons” – interstellar travellers can collect energy from them, reaching a speed 133% higher than black holes.

This method of extracting energy from a black hole not only avoids the extremely gravitational space that is too close to danger but also makes the spacecraft extremely difficult to detect. For a long time, astronomers have always regarded black holes as a gravitational slingshot that can help push objects into distant space.

In the “gravitational slingshot effect”, a celestial body (such as a planet or satellite) can “throw” the spacecraft and accelerate it. In 1963, the famous physicist Freeman Dyson suggested that any volume of spacecraft can use the gravitational slingshot effect of pairs of tight objects (such as white dwarfs or neutron stars) to reach relativistic speeds – significantly close to the speed of light. Speed (Dyson’s most famous idea is the huge spherical structure known as the “Dyson Ball”. The advanced civilization captures the entire star through the Dyson ball and captures most of its energy).

visualization shows two merging black holes, whose great speed could provide a boost to laser light swinging around them.

This visualization shows two merging black holes, whose great speed could provide a boost to laser light swinging around them.(Image: © NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

However, these pairs of decaying stars have extreme gravitational and harmful radiation, and their gravitational slingshot effect may damage the spacecraft. Conversely, David Kiping pointed out that gravity may help increase the energy of the laser beam at the edge of the black hole, thus helping the spacecraft. The black hole has a powerful gravitational field that can distort the path of the photon so that it does not fall inside the black hole.

In 1963, physicist Mark Stuckey proposed that black holes can theoretically act as a “gravitational mirror”, that is, the gravity of a black hole can bounce photons back to the light source. David Kiping calculated that if a black hole moves toward a photon source, the boomerang photon can bring back some of the energy of the black hole. The faster the black hole moves, the more energy the halo drive gets from it. Therefore, David Kiping believes that the double black holes that run at high speed with each other before the merger should be utilized.

David Kiping said: “A civilization can use black holes as galaxy waypoints, but these waypoints will be difficult to detect remotely unless there is a double black hole merger rate or a higher double black hole eccentricity.” If a civilization has the ability to be close enough to a black hole, it is theoretically possible to use the halo drive method for interstellar travel without our knowledge. Astronomers may be able to look for signs of alien life using a halo drive by observing whether the merger of double black holes occurs more frequently.

David Kepin’s research is based on the relativistic speed of paired black holes running around each other. Although there are an estimated 10 million pairs of double black holes in the Milky Way, David Kiping pointed out that only a few double black holes can run around each other for a long time at a relativistic speed, because most double black holes will merge soon. However, he believes that some isolated rotating black holes can also help the optical ring drive reach relativistic speed. “And we already know that there are many supermassive black holes that rotate at relativistic speed.”

One of the big drawbacks of the aura drive is that it “goes to the nearest black hole,” David Kiping said. “It’s like paying a high-speed toll at a time. You have to spend a certain amount of energy to get to the nearest entrance, but then you How far you can go, how far you can go.”

The halo drive works only at a distance that is very close to the black hole—about 5 to 50 times the diameter of the black hole. “That’s why you must first get very close to the black hole, and it’s decided that you can’t easily cross the light years,” David Kiping said. “We still need to find a way to reach neighboring stars. Then you can enter the StarCraft ‘road system’.”

David Kiping said that another major benefit of halo drives is that they can greatly reduce the need for fuel sources compared to other hypothetical interstellar travel methods. Other theoretical interstellar travel methods require the spacecraft to accelerate to the so-called relativistic speed, but this requires a large amount of fuel, and the fuel itself has mass, which in turn requires the thruster to function more powerfully. In contrast, a halo drive only needs to collect photons from a black hole. Spacecraft equipped with light sails can use lasers to propel themselves forward.

In 2016, physicist Stephen Hawking and investor Yuri Milner jointly announced the official launch of the “Breakthrough Star” project. The initial investment of the project is 100 million US dollars. It plans to develop a light sail aircraft called “Star Film”, which sails at a speed of one-fifth of the light for about 20 years and reaches the Centaur alpha star – the nearest star system.

What is inside the black hole?

Black holes are one of the most peculiar objects in the universe. Their name comes from the fact that there is no object to escape their gravitational forces, even light. If you venture close to a black hole and cross the so-called event horizon, the boundary where light can’t escape, you will be trapped in a black hole forever, or destroyed.

For small black holes, you can’t survive such close contact anyway. The tidal force near the event horizon is sufficient to stretch any substance to a string of atoms, which physicists call “noodle noodles.”

But for large black holes, such as the supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies such as the Milky Way, the mass is equivalent to hundreds of millions or even billions of times the mass of a star. It may be safe to cross the event horizon. Scientists believe that we are likely to survive the process of entering the black hole world.

Physicists and mathematicians have always wanted to know what the world inside the black hole is. They turned to Einstein’s general relativity equation to predict the world inside the black hole. These equations are effective until the observer approaches the center or singularity of the black hole. In theoretical calculations, the space-time curvature there becomes infinite.




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