Scientists have proposed a new hypothetical way to detect extraterrestrial civilizations. New speculative research outlines the search for aliens through a method of tracking gravitational waves that are generated by the collapse or failure of warp engines. According to Gizmodo, this concept is based on the principles of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Warp engines were first mathematically modeled by physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994. At the time, Alcubierre said that a spacecraft could travel faster than light thanks to a “warp bubble” that compresses the space in front of the ship and expands the space behind it. It does not accelerate the spacecraft, but instead manipulates the spacetime around the ship. This model requires negative energy, a speculative form of energy where there is less of it than in empty space. This model is currently unclear and unattainable with current technology.

However, a study by astrophysicist and mathematician Katy Clough of Queen Mary University of London, together with Tim Dietrich of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and Sebastian Hahn of the University of Cradiff, discusses the hypothetical possibility of tracking the collapse of warp engines that could cause gravitational waves.

The scientists want to use mathematical modeling to explore the potential theoretical behavior of warp engines. The team will focus on what might happen if a warp drive experiences a “containment failure” that could lead to a collapse that would emit detectable gravitational waves.

Thanks to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), which observes ripples in space-time caused by cosmic events, it has already been proven that gravitational waves can be detected. Such phenomena have already been observed from sources such as merging black holes and neutron stars, and thus, in theory, could be from alien craft.

As Clough explained in an email to Gizmodo, the team initially wanted to study gravitational wave signals from a hypothetical alien spacecraft, but later realized that a warp bubble collapse would be an easier first step and that such an event would result in a stronger signal.

Of course, this all sounds rather fantastic at the moment, given that we have no knowledge of alien technology, but such research could help us understand warp drive collapse signatures and improve our understanding of spacetime dynamics in scenarios that violate known energy conditions.

“Going beyond standard astrophysics as we did in this study really challenged us to adapt and push the methods to their limits, and this knowledge and experience will certainly help us as we study more challenging regimes in astrophysical applications in the future,” Clough said.