Even at the speed of light, the journey to the nearest star system would take over four years.
Needless to say, escaping from the solar system is much easier said than done. But according to a new article published in International Journal of Astrobiology and spotted The universe todayadvanced civilization has done just that – using the entire planet as a giant spaceship.
In other words, according to Professor Irina Romanovska of Houston Community College, a rogue planet could act as a lifeboat and let civilization leave its old host star.
“I suggest that extraterrestrial civilizations could use free-floating planets as interstellar transport to reach, explore and colonize planetary systems,” Romanovskaya wrote.
Nature may have already done so unintentionally when it launched rogue planets into space with habitable subsurface oceans. Astronomers have long assumed the existence of an area surrounding the solar system called the Oort cloud, an area surrounding our system that is suspected to be home to small, icy planets.
If we confiscate such a world, Romanovskaya suggests, it could provide everything needed to survive the long journey.
“Free-floating planets can provide constant surface gravity, plenty of space and resources,” she argued. “Free-floating planets with surface and subsurface oceans can provide water as a resource and protection against cosmic radiation.”
If such a planet were inhospitable or too dark, the professor of astronomy assumes that advanced civilizations have already developed technologies such as fusion reactors to make them habitable.
Romanovskaya suggests that one day the “space trackers” could use objects like Sedna, a dwarf planet with an eccentric orbit in our deep solar system, as a means of escape.
However, one of the potential problems with riding on a rogue planet is that its core may run out of heat and “eventually fail to hold oceans of liquid water (if such oceans exist),” Romanovskaya wrote.
They would also be really far from other resources important for the survival of civilization.
“Therefore, instead of making free-floating planets their permanent homes, extraterrestrial civilizations would use free-floating planets as interstellar transport to reach and colonize other planetary systems,” Romanovskaya concludes.
This theory also raises the interesting possibility that SETI researchers could try to detect any aliens using the planet as a transport device.
“I’m proposing possible techno signatures and artifacts that can be produced by extraterrestrial civilizations using free-floating planets for interstellar migration and interstellar colonization, as well as strategies for finding their techno signatures and artifacts,” Romanovskaya wrote.
Which means we can see civilization during its great escape – and perhaps learn something in case the Sun threatens the Earth by turning into a deadly red giant in the distant future.
READ MORE: Interstellar travel could be possible without spaceships, says the scientist [Universe Today]
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