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What Would Travelling Close To The Speed Of Light Really Look Like?

15 January, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - A visit to other stars in the Galaxy in a human lifetime would involve very high relativistic gamma-factors.

In the famous 1970s motion picture Star Wars the stars are depicted as stretched beams of light passing the view of the Millennium Falcon as it reaches velocities close to the speed of light (a speed of ??=0.9999995c).

In their paper, scientists assume that an advanced civilization could achieve these velocities and outlines what a voyager would observe as they travel on their interstellar journeys, paying particular attention to stellar radiation and the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR).



A group of final year masters students from our Department of Physics and Astronomy, who published studies of this year's Journal of Physics Special Topics In the Star Wars films, every star in the sky is seen to stretch before the characters' eyes as the hyperdrive is engaged.

The four students - Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle, and Cameron Scoular - have shown that this would not be the case.

They have shown that the crew would actually see a central disc of bright light.

There would be no sign of stars because of the Doppler effect - the same effect which causes the siren of an ambulance to become higher in pitch as it comes towards you.

Doppler blue shift is a phenomenon caused by a source of electromagnetic radiation - including visible light - moving towards an observer.

The effect means that the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation will be shortened. From the Millennium Falcon crew's point of view, the wavelength of the light from stars will decrease and 'shift' out of the visible spectrum into the X-ray range.



They would simply see a central disc of bright light as Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is shifted into the visible spectrum.


This is what hyperspace would look like - no sign of stars because of the Doppler effect.


"The resultant effects we worked out were based on Einstein's theory of Special Relativity, so while we may not be used to them in our daily lives, Han Solo and his crew should certainly understand its implications," Joshua Argyle said.

"Perhaps Disney should take the physical implications of such high speed travel into account in their forthcoming films," co-author of the paper Katie Dexter added.

MessageToEagle.com

See also:
Galaxy Clusters May Offer Critical Clues To Dark Energy

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