An outrageous new concept called a “halo drive” could let spaceships of the future attain incredible speeds — by using lasers to steal energy from black holes.
“It’s kind of like a highway system where you have to pay a one-time toll,” Columbia University researcher David Kipping told New Scientist of the halo drive. “Once you pay the fee, you can ride the highway system as long as you want.”
Black Hole Fun
Kipping described the halo drive in a new paper published on the preprint server arXiv.
Basically, the idea is for a spacecraft to shoot a powerful laser into a black hole. The craft would then catch the supercharged beam as it curves around the super-dense stellar object for a mega speed boost.
New Scientist points out that today’s spacecraft already use a version of the same idea, slingshotting around Jupiter to get a gravity assist into the outer solar system.
Back to Earth
But Kipping’s peers aren’t entirely convinced about the halo drive, which would require access to a black hole and a mega-powerful laser.
“The engineering parts are really difficult to deal with in any realistic way,” Harvard University physicist Avi Loeb told New Scientist. “I wouldn’t say it’s practical.”
READ MORE: Black holes and lasers could let us cheat at interstellar travel [New Scientist]
More on interstellar travel: Physicists Have a New Idea For Faster-Than-Light Travel