Remember when scientists discovered Tabby’s Star? Also known as KIC 8462852, the star took the internet and scientific community by storm because of its unusual behavior. The star would dip in brightness, sometimes by just 1% and sometimes by up to 20%, for days and weeks at a time.
Even more so, the star is slowly fading over time. Now, this was strange even for the realm of the universe. Though some argue that it could be dust around the planet causing the planet to dim so sporadically, most ruled out this possibility. So, what is the alternative explanation? Aliens.
Well, not quite. But also maybe. A viable theory for the cause of this star’s odd behavior, scientists believe that an alien megastructure could be the cause, a Dyson sphere. In short, a Dyson sphere would be a highly advanced piece of technology able to harness the power of the sun.
Though it sounds like science fiction, the idea of creating a Dyson sphere is very much possible and could become a reality once technology appropriately catches up with this ambitious idea. Even more so the creation of a Dyson Sphere may be the key to space travel beyond our own stars and the future colonization of humanity.
So, if you heard people talking about a Dyson sphere or potentially want to start building your own sometime in the future, here is everything you need to know about the Dyson sphere and its potential to completely change a civilization.
What is a Dyson Sphere?
Ok, let’s start with the basics. Originally proposed by the legendary physicists, Freeman Dyson, the Dyson sphere remains to this day as one of the most exciting theoretically proposed ideas in the world of astrophysicists.
The idea came to Dyson after reading the 1937 novel, Star Maker. Dyson proposed the megastructure in a 1960 paper, titled 'Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infra-Red Radiation', in Science journal. He described a superstructure built near or around the sun that would be able to capture the Sun’s energy and divert it back to Earth.
If this were to occur, even with just a fraction of the Sun’s energy civilization would not need to heavily rely on fossil fuels or other current sources of energy.
Humanity’s need for energy will increase as it evolves and makes new advances in technology. Eventually, the world will have to come up with an effective way to deal with this growing energy demand. And, what better energy source is than the sun?
The sun is going to be around for a few more billion years, again by just tapping into a fraction of this energy with the help of a Dyson sphere humanity would be able to power itself for generations.
Building a Dyson Sphere
Basically, the idea of a Dyson sphere centers around building a structure large enough to encompass the sun. Though there are many proposed ways to build a Dyson sphere there are four main lines of thinking that you should know about a Dyson Ring, a Dyson Swarm, a Dyson Bubble, and a Dyson Shell.
Think of the Dyson Ring as simply just that, a massive ring around the sun. The large energy gathering rings would be comprised of a huge number of co-planar solar sails installed around a star.
Each little sail would occupy the same plane as the Earth making the distance between them and the Sun about 1 Astronomical Unit. After the energy is collected by the sails, the energy would be transferred wirelessly back to earth.
The Dyson Swarm takes the idea and amplifies it, very literally creating a swarm of Dyson Rings. The sun would be surrounded by countless rings full of solar sails ready to collect energy and transfer it back to earth.
However, the orbital mechanics of the task would make the creation of a Dyson Swarm very tricky to make a reality.
The Dyson Bubble idea takes the previous ideas and builds on them creating a system of intelligent statites that would completely surround the star. Technology has nowhere near reached this level but it another great alternative way of creating a Dyson structure.
Probably one of the most commonly used lines of thinking when discussing, a Dyson structure, this megastructure forms completely around the sun with an energy-absorbing material enveloping the Sun.
However, the gravitational interaction between the star and device would be problematic, potentially causing the star to destroy the structure unless researchers create a propulsion system powerful enough to combat this issue.
Challenges with Creating A Dyson Sphere
The elephant in the room is that most of the technology and resources needed to build the Dyson Sphere is non-existent or is still just in its infant stage.
First and foremost there is no substance efficient enough to build on the large scale needed to create the massive solar sails and that is efficient enough to capture the energy needed.
Not to mention the logistics and raw materials needed to create the megastructure would require its builders to mine materials from nearby planets, refine them, and transport them to the appropriate star.
Though this emergence of autonomous robots and more advanced forms could drastically push humankind to the creation of a Dyson sphere, there is still a ways to go. However, Tabby’s mystery may be an indication that a Dyson Sphere could be possible in the distant future.