A team of physicists from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy have used mathematical calculations to show that quantum communications across interstellar space should be possible. In their article published in the journal Physical examination Dthe group describes their calculations as well as the possibility of extraterrestrial beings attempting to communicate with us using such signaling.
In recent years, scientists have investigated the possibility of using quantum communications as a highly secure form of message transmission. Previous research has shown that it would be almost impossible to intercept such messages without detection. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if similar types of communications might be possible in interstellar space. To find out, they used math that describes the movement of X-rays through a medium, like those that travel between stars. Specifically, they set out to see if their calculations could show the degree of decoherence that might occur on such a trip.
With quantum communications, engineers are faced with quantum particles that lose some or all of their unique characteristics when interacting with obstacles in their path – they have proven to be quite tricky, in fact. Such occurrences are known as decoherence, and engineers working to build quantum networks have devised ways to solve the problem. Previous research has shown that the space between stars is quite clean. But is it clean enough for quantum communications? The math shows it is. Space is so clean, in fact, that X-ray photons could travel hundreds of thousands of light-years without being subject to decoherence, and that includes gravitational interference from astrophysical bodies. They noted in their work that optical and microwave bands would work equally well.
The researchers noted that because quantum communication is possible across the galaxy, if other intelligent beings exist in the Milky Way, they might already be trying to communicate with us using such technology and we might start looking for them. They also suggest that quantum teleportation through interstellar space should be possible.
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Arjun Berera et al, Viability of quantum communication across interstellar distances, Physical examination D (2022). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.105.123033
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