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poisonedantidote's avatar

Is there anything humans could do to make the sun measurably more or less brighter?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21544 points ) July 13th, 2012

I am just watching a documentary on SETI and alien life, and I got thinking on something.

What if it was possible to use the sun as a kind of Morse code telegraph machine. Perhaps we (or they) could use something like that to communicate over large distances.

Can you think of any way that it could be possible to make the sun brighter for a second, or perhaps dimmer?

BQs:

Are there any people monitoring the brightness of stars with this in mind?

How could it be done with ease?

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8 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

There are many people who monitor the brightness (both relative and absolute) of stars. There are Cepheid variables,, the binary (and larger) star systems (visual, eclipsing and spectroscopic), and the Mira variables, to list just a few.

There are guys who compare star plates for what must feel like an eternity in order to spot a nova or supernova.

This is the short version.

There is no way to make our sun blink or light up briefly.

Cruiser's avatar

Do like you do…Wear shades;

zenvelo's avatar

Signalling via sunlight is no faster than radio or television signals.

There is not enough mass in the Solar System outside of the Sun to make a screen big enough to shutter the Sun.

Haleth's avatar

I don’t know. Let’s ask this guy.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@zenvelo True, a light signal would be no faster than a radio signal. However if I am not mistaken, I think radio signals can get tainted over large distances by things that create natural radio signals.

As for making a mask to shutter the sun, I agree that materials would be a big problem, but would we need to totally eclipse it? I was thinking maybe dimming it a little bit, the same way a planet going past a very distant sun would dim it enough for us to know there is a planet there.

Anyway, back to it being no faster than radio. Perhaps the reason we have not detected any alien signals is because they are using something faster than light to communicate. Maybe when we figure that out the universe will suddenly seem busy.

funkdaddy's avatar

Space extends in all directions, not even just 360 degrees but also vertically, it’s not arranged in concentric circles like the models. So unless you have a target you’d have to essentially wrap the sun in something at a safe distance to make it dimmer.

You would end up with something significantly larger than the sun. Like containing the oceans a million times over, or a volcano a billion times over. I think we’ll be galaxy hopping before it would be feasible unfortunately.

To make the sun brighter I think you’d have to change its fuel. Not even sure where you’d start, but unless you’re also moving the Earth to a new safe distance, we should probably hold off.

The biggest thing is after those engineering marvels occur, how would a far off alien race understand your signal wasn’t just something natural passing between them and the sun? Our atmosphere makes stars appear to twinkle, do you ever look up and think “did that star just spell out howdy?”

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