Maybe this question is too speculative... But is it possible that LIGO would detect the ramp-up and ramp-down of an Alcubierre drive being used within 10 light-years of the Solar system? Also, if the Alcubierre drive creates a "gravitational sonic boom" as it traverses space, would that be detectable?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Putting aside that this relies on speculative, not mainstream physics, I don't think this is answerable without making some strong assumptions about the warp drive. (Or if you prefer, LIGO would at best be sensitive to a limited parameter space of all conceivable warp drives). What LIGO can see depends on the frequency of the GWs emitted, which should depend on the time scale it takes for the warp drive to accelerate. Then I suspect the amplitude of the waves will depend on how massive the ship is. There are likely other parameters but just to give an idea of why this is hard to answer. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Mar 3, 2021 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any reference for these ramp-up & ramp-down processes? Most articles I've seen about the Alcubierre drive focus on the necessity of exotic matter with negative mass to prevent the warp bubble from collapsing, but I can't recall anything about creating or dissolving the bubble (just allowing the bubble to collapse leaves you stuck inside it, IIRC). $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Mar 3, 2021 at 13:34
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is like asking whether LIGO could detect if a wizard has used the One Ring within 10 light-years of the solar system. $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2021 at 13:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A better analogy might be it is like asking if a telescope could detect such a drive. It depends on how big the drive is and how big the telescope is. LIGO is only sensitive to waves around $10$ - $100$ Hz. There are specific phenomina that emit at those wavelengths, and more that emit at others, Do you expect your drive to emit those wavelengths? You might check with the engineers who built it. $\endgroup$
    – mmesser314
    Mar 3, 2021 at 16:08