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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) might want to add quantum communication to its list of ways for aliens to get in touch. According to calculations by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, quantum signals would be a viable means of establishing contact across interstellar distances – a result that also suggests we might need to update our technology to recognize any such signals coming in our direction.

This finding might seem surprising, given that setting up quantum links here on Earth has proven no easy task. Such links are based on creating entanglement between individual nodes and teleporting quantum states between them, but these states are fragile, and their tendency to decohere – that is, to lose their quantum nature – limits the stability of the links. Interstellar links, therefore, represent a bold step forward. Could quantum information survive the hostile space environment during a journey towards an interstellar receiver?

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