NOTES RELEVANT TO THE CONCEPT OF REACHING AN EXTRASOLAR PLANET VIA SUPERLUMINAL SPACEFLIGHT
NOTE 1: SPACEFLIGHT HAZARDS THROUGH THE INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM
Passage through a medium containing antimatter by a spaceship hull made from normal matter will, over time, degrade the strength of the hull. This is because of the relatively high energy annihilation gamma rays that will be created by the interaction with the antimatter. The high energy of these gamma rays will be even further increased by the Doppler shift caused by the extreme speeds interstellar spaceships must achieve. These gamma rays cause the formation within the hull of ionizing particles in a cascade shower.
Their ionization weakens the matter.
Although the interstellar medium is at most tenuous, its present state is the result of stellar evolutionary processes. Even if there were originally equal amounts of matter and anti-matter in the Galaxy, It appears likely that it is now enriched in antimatter relative to normal matter. This enrichment is because antimatter is hypothesized to be a source of antigravity, in much the same way that matter appears to be a source of gravity. But antigravity is a repulsive force, rather than an attractive force. The repulsive nature of antigravity means that interstellar antimatter is unlikely to disappear through coalescence into objects such as stars. The relationship of cosmic antimatter to dark matter, if any, is unknown.
The degradation will take place because of the high energy annihilation gamma radiation emitted as the normal matter in the hulls interacts with the antimatter interstellar atoms. Their high energy gives them very large penetrating power. They will penetrate deeply into the hulls of the spaceships. Such degradation, given the long exposure times that are likely, will cause leaks to occur and, if not prevented, may cause failure of the mission.
It is possible to reduce the likelihood of this hull degradation. One way would be to continually illuminate the exterior surface of each hull, and its surrounding space, with ultraviolet light. This will photoionize all of the incoming atoms, both normal matter and antimatter. Repulsion of the incoming antimatter ions is accomplished by surrounding each hull with a screen of wires. Each screen should be given a negative electrostatic charge, negative with respect to the hull.
NOTE 2: MISSION DURATION
Time dilation amounts to travel into the future. We describe here a possible way to avoid what could be called the “relativity barrier.’ The relativity barrier occurs at speeds that approach the speed of light. The relativity barrier causes profound changes in moving masses, including among other things, increase in mass and a slowing of the passage of time. Gravity and speeds close to luminar are the only known circumstances affecting the passage of time.
Aside from Earth, there is no human-habitable planet orbiting about our star, which we call the Sun. However, many extrasolar planets are now known to exist. More are being added to the list all the time. Some of them may possibly be human - habitable. This blog and its supplements describe a concept for travel to a hypothetical habitable extrasolar planet, within a time of one human generation.
Superluminal spaceships may use the rocket principle for propulsion. In this principle, exhaust gas is vented out through a port in the rear of the spaceship and the spaceship recoils in the opposite or forward direction. We here suggest that the exhaust “gas” be light itself. We suggest that the gamma radiation wavelength band be the kind of light used. The mutual annihilation of matter and antimatter gives rise to unique gamma ray wavelengths. These gammas come out isotropically, with most of these gamma quanta causing the spaceship to recoil, in reponse to the other gammas, which come out the port in the back of the spaceship. Such exhaust will move at the local speed of light.
NOTE 3.1: INTERSTELLAR ROCKETS
As discussed above, we use the same principle to propel the spaceship. The principle is that of a radiation rocket. A propellant is ejected from the rear of the spaceship and the spaceship recoils in the opposite direction. The recoil speed is limited to the speed of the propellant. The propellant speed, in this interstellar situation, is the speed of light in the space environment. In the interstellar situation the propellant is electromagnetic radiation. The propellant radiation is annihilation gamma radiation. Annihilation is known to be the most efficient process for energy generation and release. In our spaceship, the annihilation takes place in a reaction chamber, where a large flux of gamma rays is formed when streams of ionized, magnetically guided and focused matter and antimatter fuel collide with each other and disappear. To the maximum feasible extent, propellant gas of gamma ray quanta is ejected. The ejection speed is at the local speed of light, because gamma radiation is high energy light.
The walls of the reaction chamber will become heated, thereby reducing the efficiency from 100%. This heat will be useful, however; It may be used to power the various subsystems on the spaceship, such as life support.
Steering of the spaceship may be accomplished by movement of the ejection port in the reaction chamber walls. The reaction chamber’s walls may be modular, in order to facilitate the steering function.
NOTE 4: SOME PROPERTIES OF ANTIMATTER
It is speculated that antimatter causes antigravity fields around itself. If antigravity actually does exist, it is repulsive in character, but otherwise similar to gravity. It is expected to resemble gravity, which has an inverse-square dependence on distance. Its repulsive nature makes it unlikely to permit the formation of extended objects, such as antistars, antiplanets, or antigalaxies. Therefore, we should not expect to detect such objects, save by the annihilation gamma radiation emitted wherever they touch matter atoms.
A possibility is to take advantage of the dilation of time that relativity theory has shown us exists as one approaches the speed of light.
NOTE 4.1: AVOIDING RELATIVITY’S EFFECTS
It is suggested that, to avoid the relativity barrier, the travelers should locally increase the speed of light. Such an increase would permit them to travel faster than the barrier would normally allow.
This results from the fact that it is known that light is deflected as it passes nearby large cosmic objects. The deflection may be explained as a retardation of that portion of the light closest to the object, while the more distant light continues onwards at its normal speed. The retardation is caused by the attraction of the light toward the mass. The light is slowed down as it passes closely by the mass. The attraction is the result of the curvature of the local space-time towards the mass. Space-time is the medium for light. In other words, the deflection is caused by gravity. It therefore seems not unreasonable to expect that antigravity, the inverse of gravity, may cause light to accelerate its speed. It is, of course, completely unknown what effect antigravity fields have on human bodies, save for the contraction of time noted above.
In the concept, the spaceship exposes a quantity of antimatter produced in, and carried on board the spaceship. It is speculated that antimatter is a source of (repulsive) antigravity, and that antigravity accelerates light, while gravity decelerates light.
NOTE 5: GRAVITY AND ANTIGRAVITY
The continuum of points in interstellar space-time is generally smooth. The exceptions to smoothness are at locations in space or time that are found at the presence of matter, antimatter, or, equivalently, by light. Around such locations, the continuum is bent or “warped.” The sense of the curvature may be toward the particle or ray. Alternatively, it may be repulsive. This means that an antibody traveling nearby will be repelled away from the force center (i.e., the center of curvature) Where it is attractive, the curvature is commonly called gravity. Curvature in the opposite sense is herein referred to as antigravity.
It is known that mass deflects the direction of light. It is speculated that the deflection is done by pulling back on the passing light, decelerating it, relative to the remainder of the light, the part of the light exposed to the most intense part of the gravity field. The most notable feature of gravity is its sign: it seems to exist only as an attractive force everywhere.
Antigravity, which we have never encountered, is believed to arise from antimatter. It curves the continuum in the opposite sense from gravity. It is repulsive between anti-masses. On the other hand, antigravity is expected to accelerate light exposed to intense antigravity, thereby increasing its speed. It will therefore oppositely deflect any light passing nearby a hypothetical anti-mass. Such natural bodies are unlikely to exist, because of the repulsive nature of the curvature or center of “force.” This is because they are not formed as stars are formed, by an attractive force (i.e., gravity), but instead their individual particles remain free. It is unclear as to the relationship, if any, between such antimatter particles and dark matter.