Now that Tabby’s Star has fallen off the list of potential locations where an alien megastructure called a Dyson’s Sphere is harvesting energy for space travel, weapons or some other yet-unknown purpose, does this mean the structures don’t exist at all? Not according to an astronomer who not only believes we can find them, he’s identified 64 nearby stars that are good candidates for nesting inside one.
Zaza Osmanov, an astronomer at Free University (more on the school later) of Tbilisi, Georgia, presents his Dyson theories in a paper published in arxiv. He believes they are possible and suggests that the best type of star for one is a pulsar – those white dwarf neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation which makes them visible to Earth telescopes. Pulsars are known to have planets where the advanced alien civilation could live and harvest materials to build and manage the Dyson sphere.
Osmanov also believes that a sphere is not the optimal shape. He proposes that a better one would be a thin ring-like disc or ring of discs placed in the star’s habitable zone. The Dyson Ring would emit infrared radiation that should be detectable with conventional IR telescopes available today — the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are two examples. To make the job easier, he identified possible pulsars based on the power of the VLTI
We have argued that by monitoring the nearby zone of the Solar System approximately 64 pulsars are expected to be located inside it.
Of course, these IR signatures could have other causes, but Osmanov believes that these energy-harvesting megastructures exist. However, he’s concerned about contacting the alien civilizations once they’re found.
Rapidly rotating pulsars are very powerful and harvesting their energy would be quite profitable, but a habitable zone would be much farther and mass of a material required for constructing the mega-ring would exceed the total mass of all planets, asteroids, comets, centaurs and interplanetary dust in a typical planetary system by several orders of magnitude.
In other words, the Dyson Ring would be one massive construction project to build a huge machine beyond even the imagination of the tiny human brain – a brain that would be no match for the alien civilization that created the Ring and used its power to visit the tiny blue orb spying on their star.
While we wait for astronomers to check out Osmanov’s pulsars, check out Osmanov’s employer. According to its web site, the mission of Free University is to provide the country’s most talented and motivated students a world-class, 21st-century education. While students who can afford it pay a full tuition, over half take advantage of a grant program which allows them to attend school for free in exchange for someday – when that world-class education brings in world-class paychecks – paying the tuition of a future student.
Not a bad idea.