SETI at X-ray Energies - Parasitic Searches from Astrophysical Observations

If a sufficiently advanced civilization can either modulate the emission from an X-ray binary, or make use of the natural high luminosity to power an artificial transmitter, these can serve as good beacons for interstellar communication without involving excessive energy costs to the broadcasting civilization.

In addition, the small number of X-ray binaries in the Galaxy considerably reduces the number of targets that must be investigated compared to searches in other energy bands. Low mass X-ray binaries containing neutron stars in particular are considered as prime potential natural and artificial beacons and high time resolution (better than 1ms) observations are encouraged. All sky monitors provide the capability of detecting brief powerful artificial signals from isolated neutron stars.

New capabilities of X-ray astronomy satellites developed for astrophysical purposes are enabling SETI in new parameter regimes. For example, the X-ray Timing Explorer satellite provides the capability of exploring the sub-millisecond region. Other planned X-ray astronomy satellites should provide significantly improved spectral resolution. While SETI at X-ray energies is highly speculative (and rather unfashionable) by using a parasitic approach little additional cost is involved.

The inclusion of X-ray binaries in target lists for SETI at radio and other wavebands is also advocated.
Comments: Belated preprint of 1997, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 50, No. 7, p. 253 - 257. Uploaded in response to requests to make this more accessible

Robin H. D. Corbet
(Submitted on 1 Sep 2016)

Subjects: High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (astro-ph.HE)
Cite as: arXiv:1609.00330 [astro-ph.HE] (or arXiv:1609.00330v1 [astro-ph.HE] for this version)
Submission history
From: Robin Corbet [view email]
[v1] Thu, 1 Sep 2016 18:03:07 GMT (14kb)

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