Written by S.S. Munholland, CNN Contributors T.M. Prewitt, Mary Thomson, and Erika Awusu
Sudanese, Congolese, Heruans, and Malawians are just some of the countries that have become the unwitting carriers of potentially-dangerous white dwarf nuclei.
While we don’t yet know all the possibilities that exist, one is very clear.
We have the chance to stop these wild flows before they spread. We will need to catch the rogue seeds with state-of-the-art biotechnology that has not yet been developed.
Take a closer look at Africa’s rogue stars .
Will we succeed?
No one knows for sure. But if this treaty is passed, experts hope it will be the first step toward solving this enormously complex problem.
“This is a very long journey, but I am not deterred by the challenge,” Jonathan Koomey, a physicist at Harvard University, said in reference to the treaty. Koomey spent 12 years designing a method to detect rogue stars using nuclear detection methods, but the treaty has new commitments that offer a new strategic opening.
“With the SIGNET treaty passed, we will be able to attract significant financial resources toward building interplanetary spacecraft, or alternatively using laser and radio detection, or simply space radar,” explained Koomey.
Plutonium power could be made available to these nations at a very low cost, which would be essential for planetary defense for astronauts traveling to the asteroids and comets.
This search has considerable implications beyond planetary defense, because rogue stars emit dangerous gamma rays — enough to kill humans.
Project SAM is a U.S. company that works to help develop its space-based capabilities, and it is also the company that received the highest amount of funding by the SIGNET nations after the U.S. government agreed to an additional $50 million.
“Including the SIGNET treaty, NASA is planning $350 million over five years for MX-1C spacecraft that will gain attention in the asteroid belt and potentially use fusion power,” said Skyline Technologies CEO Hal Kertzer, who expects manned missions to asteroids with MX-1C’s synthetic aperture radar.
Artists impression of possible asteroid mitigation strategies. Credit: Skyscanner
So why has this project become a top priority for the nations of Africa?
Ultimately, although the scientific community might like to focus on the science and space possibilities of rogue stars, the tangible benefits of knowledge is arguably more important.
Aside from a degree of fascination, the hunt is vital because rogue stars are unpredictable in nature. Here is a chance to learn how to identify new space research, develop new technology, and explore space safely.
“These rogue stars have all manner of ‘attacks’ that can take place over short and long periods of time — threatening to change Earth’s climate, wiping out Earth’s life support systems, and even creating life elsewhere,” said Koomey.
“If we are to protect ourselves, we must understand how they will behave in the face of space threats.”
This potential presence raises questions. It has been calculated that rogue stars are 10,000 times more likely to bombard Earth than those in our solar system. Can rogue stars wield the power of nuclear weapons?
Furthermore, rogue stars are over a million times more common than stars in our solar system, which suggest that they may be vulnerable to being brought closer by mysterious asteroids.
Either way, there is immense pressure to identify rogue stars as a risk to the Earth’s geological stability and a matter of peace.
Ultimately, it comes down to science. If rogue stars represent a space hazard, then by definition their existence should be known. This knowledge is needed to support higher education, initiate new initiatives, and steer funding toward research that will potentially lead to its prevention.
By taking a potential risk, a nation could lead to substantial financial benefits through knowledge, efficiency, and ultimately improved space exploration.