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Say you are traveling in a warp bubble towards Earth from 10,000 lightyears away with an ETA of 24 hours.

On the front of your ship, you mount a high powered telescope pointed directly at Earth (your destination). Assume for the purposes of this question that the telescope automatically adjusts as you arrive closer and cancels out any light from the sun that would interfere with the observation.

What would you see?

I figured you would see any of either 1. Extremely bright light caused by "running into" a higher number than normal photons, 2. Nothing because the photons bend around the warp bubble of the ship, or 3. You watch a sped up version of Earth and the last 10,000 years of history, getting closer to the present as you approach.

But, I am not a physicist. I would like to know what is the most likely scenario?

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  • $\begingroup$ Here is a very informative blog entry about the warp drives. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Sep 18, 2015 at 21:39

1 Answer 1

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  1. Extremely bright light caused by "running into" a higher number than normal photons,

Depends on the warp drive, for the Alcubierre drive that's what you might see, but also blue shifted, but also quantum effects could be important.

Note that you can start at a star that is 10,000 light years away and accelerate at a finite acceleration and experience only 24 hours of your own time and arrive at earth. No exotic energy or warp drives required. And you will see blue shifted bright light, and see the images of earth activity move around, watching 10,000 years of history over 24 hours of your time.

  1. Nothing because the photons bend around the warp bubble of the ship

Depends on the warp drive, for the Natario drive that's what you might see (or lack seeing), but again, quantum effects could be important.

  1. You watch a sped up version of Earth and the last 10,000 years of history, getting closer to the present as you approach.

When case 1 applies this applies too. Bluer, faster changing images. And again, you don't need a warp drive for this.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Note that you can start at a star that is 10,000 light years away and accelerate at a finite acceleration and experience only 24 hours of your own time and arrive at earth. No exotic energy or warp drives required." Can you please explain this, even if it's a really simple reference to basic special relativity equations? $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Sep 18, 2015 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank From the earth's point of view you time dilated from moving so fast. From your point of view then distance between you length contracted into a very small distance. A gamma factor of 3,660,000 should be enough. $\endgroup$
    – Timaeus
    Sep 18, 2015 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Suppose I shoot a light beam out at a distant place at which is a mirror, and it takes two years for that light to come back. Now I take my clock and get in a rocket which accelerates to near light speed. I arrive at the distant position where my mirror is waiting. You're saying that with sufficient acceleration I can find that when I arrive my clock reads less than one year. Is that correct? (It's been a while since I did this stuff). $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Sep 18, 2015 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank Yes $\endgroup$
    – Timaeus
    Sep 18, 2015 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ What's the integral you do to get the associated factor? Must be roughly the integral of the $\gamma$ factor over my space-time curve, right? $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Sep 18, 2015 at 23:28

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