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Quantum Messages Could Hold the Key to Discovering Interstellar Extraterrestrial Life, Study Says

In the study, scientists noted that photons or particles of light can travel vast interstellar distances while retaining their quantum nature.

Quantum Messages Could Hold the Key to Discovering Interstellar Extraterrestrial Life, Study Says

Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Thanh Nguyen

Particles may be able to travel further in space due to the lower average density of matter outside Earth

Highlights
  • A study suggests that aliens may have adopted quantum communication
  • Scientists are currently developing Earth-based quantum communication
  • Quantum communication can be more secure than standard communication
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Scientists could look to quantum messages as they search for the existence of extraterrestrial life, according to a new study. New research suggests use of quantum signals while digging for signs of ancient life on other planets, as some forms of light are capable of traveling hundreds of thousands of light years without disruption. Particles can travel much further in space, thanks to lower average particle density in space, but quantum communication faces a challenge of quantum particles losing their quantum nature as they interact with their surroundings.

According to Arjun Berera, theoretical physicist and author of the study published in Physical Review D, intelligent extraterrestrial aliens might have adopted quantum communication. Scientists are currently developing Earth-based quantum communication, a technology that uses quantum particles to send information. Quantum communications are said to be capable of being more secure than standard (or classical) communication.

Particles are expected to travel much farther in space than on Earth due to the lower average density of matter outside Earth. To explore the idea, Berera and another physicist Jaime Calderón Figueroa from the University of Edinburgh, calculated the distance light could travel in interstellar space without getting disrupted.

Decoherence poses a major obstacle when it comes to quantum communication. It occurs when the quantum particles lose their quantum nature as they react with the surroundings. “Quantum states you generally think of as very delicate, and if there's any kind of external interaction, you kind of destroy that state,” Berera explained.

They observed that X-ray photons could travel even beyond the Milky Way galaxy and cover hundreds of thousands of light-years. Following the find, the researchers have explored strategies to look for extraterrestrial quantum dispatches. While searching for signs of alien life, scientists could also look for a type of communication called quantum teleportation where distant particles can be transferred to another. The technology requires both quantum and classical signals and simultaneous detection of these signals from space could hint at the presence of aliens.


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