February 9, 2011

Transit Light-Curve Signatures of Artificial Objects

Hot on the trail of Transit Light Curve (TLC*) Mechanics, I’d like to follow up my previous post dealing with transits by featuring this topic: Transit Light-Curve Signatures of Artificial Objects. It's a "Dysonian SETI" paper written by Luc Arnold from way back in 2005 that also mentions possible signals that might be encoded within transit light curves, and hints at the detection of ringed planets as well.

The main idea is that non-spherical objects have different light curve signatures and should be distinguishable from the usual patterns of a transiting planet.

Because hundreds or thousands of people are now looking at light curves via the Planet Hunters project, I thought it’s a good idea to post what the paper says about unusual light-curve patterns that might be caused by the transit of artificial planet-sized objects. Who knows? Perhaps the common folk hunting for planets might end up finding Civilizations as well!

So, dear planet-hunter slash civilization-hunter, start familiarizing yourself with the sample patterns I compiled below (as a quick reference) while you're classifiying light curves at PlanetHunters.org. Good luck with spotting that Kardashev Type II Civilization !!!

* TLC Mechanics/Dynamics, A sub-field of the science of planet-hunting focused on the study and analysis of Transit Light Curves