Starry Messages - Searching for Signatures of Interstellar Archaeology

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R.A. Carrigan Jr (2010), JBIS, 63, 90-103

Refcode: 2010.63.90
Keywords: Interstellar archaeology, Dyson spheres, Kardashev scale, SETI, Drake equation

Searching for signatures of cosmic-scale archaeological artefacts such as Dyson spheres or Kardashev civilizations is an interesting alternative to conventional SETI. Uncovering such an artifact does not require the intentional transmission of a signal on the part of the originating civilization. This type of search is called interstellar archaeology or sometimes cosmic archaeology . The detection of intelligence elsewhere in the Universe with interstellar archaeology or SETI would have broad implications for science. For example, the constraints of the anthropic principle would have to be loosened if a different type of intelligence was discovered elsewhere. A variety of interstellar archaeology signatures are discussed including non-natural planetary atmospheric constituents, stellar doping with isotopes of nuclear wastes, Dyson spheres, as well as signatures of stellar and galactic-scale engineering. The concept of a Fermi bubble due to interstellar migration is introduced in the discussion of galactic signatures. These potential interstellar archaeological signatures are classified using the Kardashev scale. A modified Drake equation is used to evaluate the relative challenges of finding various sources. With few exceptions interstellar archaeological signatures are clouded and beyond current technological capabilities. However SETI for so-called cultural transmissions and planetary atmosphere signatures are within reach.

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