Hundreds of years ago, mankind embarked on the path of technological development. With the help of technology, we were finally able to explore every corner of the earth’s surface. The reason that allows us to travel all over the earth is that we have all kinds of fast transportation. With the help of advanced transportation, the earth has become a global village and the back garden of mankind.
Although the earth is very small in the universe, we still feel its vastness when we are on the earth. In such a vast space, if you want to avoid the mystery of the road, you need to navigate. At each intersection and key locations on the ground, we will set up a street sign to show people the direction of the road. There are navigation satellites in the orbit of the earth, and we provide navigation in detail. Even if you go to a completely unfamiliar place, you will not get lost as long as you have navigation guidance.
I believe that every driver knows the importance of navigation. Without navigation, we cannot go to unfamiliar areas. If we go indiscriminately, we may get lost and find our way home. On a small earth, we all need navigation guidance, so in the vast universe, we naturally need navigation guidance.
We all know that the universe is vast and vast. A small solar system is about 2 light-years in diameter, and the Milky Way is 100,000 light-years in diameter. On the outside of the Milky Way is the vast outer space, with star clusters, nebulae, galaxy clusters, and large-scale superclusters of galaxies. The current observable range of human beings reaches 93 billion light-years.
The universe is also a dark space, and the average distance between stars is more than a few light-years. When we are sailing in the universe, there is a dark space around us, with no south, east, north or west, and no sense of direction. If there is no navigation guidance, as long as we walk into the starry sky, we may never find the way home.
Someone once asked a question: if we get lost in the universe, how do we get back to the earth? Some friends may have said that our navigation on the earth is provided by satellites, so we can also place navigation satellites in various positions in the universe, and then navigate the interstellar navigation of human beings.
So is this method feasible? It is possible in theory, but it is very difficult in practice. This difficulty is mainly reflected in several aspects. One is that the investment will be very large. It is necessary to know that the universe and the starry sky are vast, and the navigation range of satellites is limited. A navigation network that is hundreds of light years old, the number of satellites required will be a very large number.
If mankind wants to not get lost in the Milky Way and build a satellite network covering the entire galaxy, the number of satellites needed is even more unbearable for us. Another reason is that satellites have a limited lifespan. After we spend a huge cost to spread satellites throughout the Milky Way, they cannot be used for a long time and require frequent replacement and maintenance. This later maintenance cost is even more unbearable for mankind.
What’s more, the cosmic environment itself is complex and harsh, and there are often various disasters. The satellite is very weak. As long as it is hit by interstellar dust or debris, it may be destroyed and lost. Therefore, it is difficult to build a starry sky network through artificial satellites, even if the technical conditions are met.
If the artificial starry sky network is difficult to achieve, what will humans need to navigate the interstellar navigation in the future? At this time, scientists thought of pulsars. A pulsar is essentially a neutron star, except that it is a neutron star placed at a high speed. A neutron star is a massive celestial body second only to a black hole in the universe. Although it is small in size, its mass is surprisingly large.
Neutron stars are also evolved from massive stars. When the life of massive stars comes to an end and a supernova occurs, the outer shell material breaks away, the center material collapses, and finally it evolves into a neutron star. Not all neutron stars can become pulsars, only those rotating at high speeds.
The reason why pulsars can be used for navigation is because pulsars periodically emit strong radio pulse signals while rotating at a high speed, and this kind of signal is very regular. The signal of each pulsar all different. When early scientists received the signal from the Fang Chong star, they thought it was a civilization signal sent by an alien civilization to mankind, and they were excited about this for a long time.
But later, after searching and searching and finding the source, it was known that it was a signal from a special neutron star such as a pulsar. The signal of each pulsar is different, it is equivalent to a bright light in the universe, as long as there are three pulsars, a position can be located. The more pulsars found, the larger the space range that can be located.
And there are many advantages of pulsars. For example, it is a natural celestial body and does not require us to invest in it. It is basically free to use. In addition, the pulse signal sent by the pulsar is very strong, and the distance it can travel is very long, so there is no need to worry about it suddenly malfunctioning at some point. Finally, a pulsar is a very powerful celestial body. As long as its position does not collide with other celestial bodies, it will basically not change, and its life span is long enough.
It can be seen that pulsars are the best interstellar coordinates in the universe. Through them, we can build a starry sky network and navigate within this network without worrying about getting lost. To build an interstellar network, you first need to find a large number of pulsars. The search for pulsars requires the use of radio telescopes. Since the operation of the China Sky Eye, 59 pulsars have been discovered, which has made extraordinary achievements for mankind.
As the Sky Eye continues to observe and search, more pulsars will be discovered in the future. With the assistance of these pulsars, humans will be able to conduct interstellar voyages in the future. Otherwise, even if we are given an interstellar spacecraft now, we would not dare to go out of the solar system, because in the absence of interstellar navigation, interstellar travel means running blindly, can’t tell the direction, and can’t find the way home.
The number and distance of the pulsars we can explore and find will determine how wide the range of human interstellar navigation in the future. To go out and explore the universe, we must first establish an interstellar navigation network. And these we have to rely on pulsars, perhaps the alien civilizations in the universe, their interstellar travel also relies on pulsars for navigation, so the denser areas of pulsars may also be an important direction for humans to find alien civilizations. .