Space has always been mysterious. When we look up at the night sky, with its unending vastness, we can’t help but be amazed and dumbfounded. The night sky allows us to witness burning celestial bodies millions of miles away. If something can tingle the curious mind, it has to be space.
Given the inquisitive nature of humanity, it is only natural that we would want to learn more about this eternal, vast nothingness that surrounds us.
We have explored more on the moon than we have in the deepest depths of our oceans. It proves how fascinated our species is with ‘the great beyond’.
While some may condemn space research as impractical and not the need of the hour, others have laid down strong arguments in its favour. The latter have argued that our days on Earth may be numbered, and threats from outer space are very much a possibility. Therefore, we mustn’t give up space research.
Intergalactic travel, just like its name, suggests travelling from one galaxy to another or travelling between galaxies in general.
To date, intergalactic travel is only a theoretical concept. There are numerous reasons for this, but the biggest is the distance. We can only measure the distance between us and other galaxies in light-years. Even the galaxies closest to our Milky Way would be a few thousand light-years away.
However, humans do not cease to dream. We have imagined, thought of, and questioned intergalactic travel for years now. It can be reflected in some famous science fiction literature, cinema, and even animation.
The idea of giant spaceships, alien civilizations, and different planets with unique characteristics and environments has never fascinated us. This fascination, unlike most things, has not diminished with time. Even today, space research is being conducted with utmost urgency, and we have some of humanity’s best minds working on it.
However, no matter our efforts, intergalactic travel has remained elusive to us. We already struggle with the concept of interstellar travelling, and intergalactic travel is far more complex than that.
If we were to measure the distance between Earth and Moon in terms of the speed of light, it would be one and a quarter light seconds. And it takes humanity 3 days to traverse this distance. You can imagine how much time a few thousand light-years might take us.
To make it to other galaxies and successfully execute an intergalactic expedition within our lifetime, we would need to travel faster than light. Current physics has deemed it impossible because travelling faster than light is a theoretical concept that requires imaginary mass. It might cause the very structure of our physical bodies to disintegrate on a molecular level, and it might also be the key to travelling back in time.
Before we ponder what-ifs, let’s look at our current space technology for intergalactic travel.
Why Intergalactic Travel Is Not Possible With Current Technology
1. The Gravitational Pull of The Earth
While we would be extinct without gravity, gravity also significantly hinders space travel and, therefore, intergalactic travel. The pull of the Earth is not to be taken lightly. Any spacecraft will need a speed of at least 25000 mph to cross Earth’s gravitational pull and escape into space.
Launching the Mars Rover into space took some severe money and rare metal alloys. We neither have the budget nor the resources required to propel ourselves into another galaxy or undertake intergalactic expeditions.
2. Speed Limitations of our Spaceships
Science and technology have indeed come a long way as far as space travel is concerned. However, the speed at which our spaceships move is still way too slow for intergalactic travelling. It would take us about five to seven years to travel to some of the planets in the middle of the milky way.
Therefore, the time it would take us to undertake intergalactic travel is exponentially longer. No person in their single life will be able to complete such a voyage.
3. Space Debris
Even if we can successfully propel ourselves out of the Earth’s gravitational field, another huge challenge lies waiting for us just outside of it. There is excessive space debris flying at a very high speed across space. These might likely crash against the spaceship, and our vehicle could be destroyed before intergalactic travelling is achieved. It would require highly high-quality protective material to ensure that we remain safe in space.
4. Navigation Problems
Space is infinite and vast. Therefore one of the biggest challenges to intergalactic travel is the ability to navigate through space properly. Currently, transmissions received and emitted by atomic clocks help rockets or spacecraft navigate through space. However, the farther you go from Earth, the longer this transmission process will take.
Therefore, since another galaxy would be thousands of light-years away, we cannot expect our current navigation technology to help with intergalactic explorations.
Space is filled with deadly radiation due to constantly occurring reactions between sub-atomic particles travelling at remarkably high speeds. When these particles bump against the metal surface of a spacecraft, the reactions only get accelerated. Therefore, the longer your spacecraft is in space, the more dangerous your surrounding becomes.
Unless we can develop an alternative building material, prolonged space expeditions such as intergalactic navigations will be dangerous.
6. Dire Effects of Zero Gravity
When we think of intergalactic travelling, it is customary to assume that we might be in space for years. Our body is not equipped to handle such prolonged exposure to Zero gravity. Zero gravity has numerous harmful effects on our bodies – it renders specific immune cells incapable of doing their jobs, can make the red blood cells in your body explode, give you kidney stones, and lose bone mass.
The Young’s Machine aims to solve this problem and combat the effects of zero gravity on our bodies. However, it is not developed enough to be put to proper use yet.
How We Can make Intergalactic Travel Possible in the Future
1. Using A Star’s Hypervelocity
We first observed hypervelocity stars in the year 2005. However, they were theorized much earlier, in 1988. These stars travel at a velocity much higher than the escape velocity for the milky way, i.e. at their speed, they can quickly exit our galaxy and enter another. If in the future, we can use their speed to boost the speed of our spacecraft, then intergalactic travel will no longer be a mere impossible dream.
One way to use the hyperspeed of these stars would be to enter into one of their orbits and wait as they travel to another galaxy.
2. Artificial Propulsion
This intergalactic exploration method also involves using a star and its orbit. Suppose we can come up with enough energy to propel a star correctly in the direction of another galaxy. In that case, we too can enter another galaxy with it by patiently waiting in its orbit.
3. Time Dilation
It is only a theoretical concept and can be possible only from the frame of reference of a traveller travelling close to the speed of light. It takes about a couple of years to travel to Earth from the Andromeda Galaxy. However, according to time dilation theory, time will slow down for the observer when he reaches a speed close to the speed of light.
So, in theory, intergalactic travel is possible within a human’s lifetime if we go by the principles of time dilation theory.
4. Devising a Faster than Light Method
A hypothetical concept called the Alcubierre Drive involves the generation of a space-distorting wave that could allow us to travel across galaxies successfully. This method suggests a method that would give a spaceship the impulse to attain a speed more significant than light. However, the fun part is that the spaceship itself would not be travelling at the speed of light, but the space around it would be.
A grand theory does not have a mathematical basis yet, but if we can make this hypothesis a reality, intergalactic travel will not be unachievable.
Albert Einstein had pondered the existence of wormholes a long time back. The wormhole theory suggests that we can create specific shortcuts through a theoretical passage in space-time. These passages would allow us to enter another galaxy without travelling an excessive distance quickly. The wormhole theory has no practical proof yet; however, who knows what the future holds.
6. Harnessing a Better Material for Spaceships
As mentioned earlier in this article, the sub atomic particles in space cause deadly radiation, which is only accelerated by their collision against the metal surface of spaceships. Scientists as currently trying to use plastic as a less harmful alternative, or they plan to use a magnesium diboride superconductor to battle this radiation problem.
How Acquiring the Means for Intergalactic Travel Will Impact Humanity
1. Chances of Finding A Planet B:
As we all know, Earth is steadily heading towards a climate disaster, and very soon, our beautiful blue planet may not be habitable anymore. We have looked for numerous alternatives in our own Milky Way but have not been able to find a suitable alternative to Earth yet. However, if we are to enter another galaxy or acquire the means for intergalactic travel, it exponentially increases our chances of finding another habitable planet.
Humanity is currently on a trajectory toward destruction; intergalactic travel might be the beacon of hope that will assure that our species are not met with cruel extinction.
2. Hints to Alien Life
Finding out the existence of another living species in the vast nothingness that surround us will probably be the most remarkable discovery made by humans. We have been searching space for traces of any other life form for years now. Aliens can not only show us an alternate way of life but may allow us to acquire technology that would allow us to enter an advanced scientific area that is unfathomable right now.
While we have not been able to find any traces of alien life in our current space explorations, intergalactic travel would significantly increase our chances of getting exposed to other intelligent life forms.
3. Acquiring New Minerals
Space is a treasure house of minerals and precious particles that are either limited on Earth or excessively costly, or do not exist on our planet. Even from small meteor strikes, humans can acquire numerous precious metals and minerals that have numerous applications and can significantly impact the advancement of science. If we can acquire the means for intergalactic travel and explore various planets across different galaxies, we can find many of these precious metals and minerals.
4. Improved Standard of Life
If humanity can somehow acquire the means of intergalactic travel, it would expose us to an unfathomable amount of knowledge hidden in the vast, mysterious universe. It will impact the current theories of physics and can open them up to greater possibilities. The way we see the world and space may be changed.
There is a good chance that intergalactic travel will make human civilization a lot more advanced and improve the current quality of life based on limited resources and comparatively limited understanding of the universe. This knowledge would bring about significant changes and allow such advancements in science that one can only dream of right now. Thus, we will not be living the lives we currently live.
Intergalactic travel is truly a marvel and could open us up to a world of endless possibilities. However, humanity has a notorious reputation for turning its blessings into curses. Therefore, even something as beautiful and wondrous as intergalactic travel can have numerous adverse outcomes.
1. Dangerous Weapons of Destruction
The atom and hydrogen bombs are some of the most dangerous weapons under humanity’s control. These bombs can obliterate life as we know it if enough of them are set off. We have made such vicious weapons of mass destruction from elements found only on a single planet. One can only imagine what we could create if we were exposed to multiple planets across galaxies. Instead of finding new hope for life, we could eradicate it.
2. Capitalism and Monopoly
Most economies on our planet follow the capitalistic system of government. The top capitalists in any economy try to acquire hold of the means of production and monopolize them to maintain their influential status in society. There is a good chance that the wealthiest, most potent humans will try to monopolize our gains from outer space.
It will create a group of uber-powerful humans who would hold even more power than they hold now. It will, in turn, lead to more significant gaps between the commoners and the rich and lead to an even more unequal and corrupted society.
3. Earth May Lose Importance
Commoners can only do so much to contribute to the betterment of the planet. Yes, we can plant trees and reduce our carbon footprints, but the real power to save the planet is still in the hands of influential leaders and billionaires. When these people find out that there is another planet they can escape to, they might start caring even less about the condition of Earth. They might try to suck Earth’s resources dry and acquire as much profit as possible before abandoning it and running off the other planets.
Unfortunately, most commoners may not have this option as it is evident that if there is an escape vehicle that will take us away from our dying planet, we will give the rich and the powerful first preference. We might face a dire situation where the rich abandon us to fend for ourselves and die cruelly on an uninhabitable Earth.
4. Alien Threat
Unfortunately, it is one negative impact that humans will have no control over. Exploring different galaxies will also mean exposing ourselves to other life forms outside. While it is true that we are currently trying our best to contact aliens in space, one cannot be sure that the results of such contact will only be positive. There is a good possibility that the alien life we encounter in our intergalactic expeditions may be hostile towards us.
Since we cannot be sure about their technological prowess, we cannot be sure if we will be able to overpower them in combat either. If the aliens become a more vigorous species, we could be obliterated or enslaved for the rest of our existence.
Intergalactic travel is only a theoretical concept at the moment. We do not know if we will ever be able to achieve it, but that does not mean that we cannot imagine. This article explores a time in the future when we will be able to learn more about one of the greatest mysteries that surround us – space.
The risks of intergalactic travel are numerous, and the chances of achieving it are incredibly slim, but adversities have never been able to suppress human curiosity. This article explores one such curious thought – the possibilities and impacts of intergalactic travel.