A nuclear explosion in space? Directing a nuclear explosion is difficult even in theory, but is it possible to direct one in space, with a trajectory and width of a significant diameter and wavelength to sufficiently determine (based on our current receiving capabilities and assuming they have the same) that there is other life light years away?

What would happen if we received that signal?

This is assuming we can have some sort of signal that radiates at a high volume of alpha and beta particles. The basics of this question are can we direct a nuclear decay with the explosion, and even then could we input a signal into that output?

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    $\begingroup$ You could explode well timed nuclear bombs in space, and send a message in Morse Code. Receiving folks would need to understand Morse Code, though. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 23 '19 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ Alpha and beta particles are charged - much of the surge seems likely to be swept up in the magnetospheres of both the origin sun and the observer's sun. The observer may mistake the signal as an increase in (previously-undetected) local solar activity. Even if the observer figured out where the particles are coming from, they will be looking directly at the origin sun, and tiny fission sparkles may be missed against the brilliant, ongoing fusion spectacle. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Mar 23 '19 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Please note that SE's Q&A model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. We're lenient with new users, but please note that you're asking a lot of questions (too broad) and one is "what would happen?" which is both too broad and primarily opinion-based (who? an individual? a government? etc.). Can you narrow down your question to a specific problem you're trying to resolve? $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 23 '19 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ What is the "wavelength" of a nuclear explosion? Why do you think that "directing" a nuclear explosion is that hard? (See Project Orion for a space-travel related example; or see nuclear shaped charge for a military related example.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 23 '19 at 12:49

We won't detect alpha nor beta particles. Those will probably not go over their parent stars' escape velocities, and even if they do, they will be so spread out through space, and will have had so much time to decay that they will be unnoticeable.

What we might notice is gamma radiation coming from stars that shouldn't be producing it. We only get those from neutron stars, pulsars, novae and black hole accretion discs.

However, we would need devices much more sensitive than what we have today. The maximum theoretical energy yeld of the Tsar Bomba is approximattely a billionth of what the sun outputs in a single second. Even then, not all of the nuke's energy is emitted as gamma rays. You are dealing with pulses too short and too thinly spread to send a proper message. The aliens will be more efficient by using large dish antennas and good old radio waves.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, alpha & beta particles probably would reach escape velocity, but the flux of particles from any human-creatable nuclear explosion would be pathetically tiny compared to the background cosmic ray flux. As you say, even the output of a star like the sun would dwarf it, and that's orders of magnitude smaller than a supernova, pulsar, black-hole accretion disk... $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 26 '19 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ You might be able to increase the overall magnitude of the nuclear radiation being emitted by the hypothetical alien society if they're an interplanetary civilization that makes heavy use of nuclear pulse rockets - even if the energy of each individual nuclear explosion is relatively low, with enough rockets flying around you'd be talking about a lot of nuclear explosions over time. They wouldn't be communicating any information other than "we exist", though. $\endgroup$ – nick012000 Mar 26 '19 at 3:50

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