A Proposed Infrared Search for Artificial Kuiper Belt Objects


G.L. Matloff (2004), JBIS57, 283-287

Refcode: 2004.57.283
Keywords: Interstellar travel, interstellar colonization, SETI, Kuiper Belt Objects, astronomical photometry.

As pointed out previously, large solar-sail spacecraft unfurled near the Sun could traverse the separation between the solar system and Alpha Centauri on voyages of about 1,000-year duration. Since stars approach our Sun within 1-2 light years at intervals of about 105 years, even contemporary technology would allow 250-500 year colonization ventures to our solar system from as many as 5 x 104 other stars since the formation of our solar system. If one of 10,000 or so stars in the Milky Way Galaxy is home to a long-lived technological civilization, extraterrestrial (ET) colonies may exist in our solar system. Papagianis has suggested that an infrared (IR) survey of asteroidal solar system objects may reveal the presence of ET colonies by IR-excess. This paper addresses many issues of performing such a search of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) including photometric filter characteristics and calibrations, reflected and (projected) radiated IR fluxes and colour indices from natural and artificial KBOs, and KBO IR observability using moderate-sized telescopes. it is demonstrated that the observed IR excesses of Centaur objects is almost certainly not artificial.