How to spot an alien megastructure: The new search for Dyson spheres

Clever might have constructed huge solar energy crops round their host stars. The hunt for his or her telltale glow is hotting up


27 January 2021

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Sam Falconer

THERE comes some extent at which any superior alien civilisation price its salt has to dismantle a neighbouring planet for spare elements. This isn’t an act of vandalism, you perceive, however relatively a precursor to constructing an infinite solar power plant that surrounds its complete host star. What else would an formidable society do to proceed its growth? How else would it not meet its ever-increasing demand for ?

This state of affairs, or one thing prefer it, is the founding precept of the seek for alien megastructures, which on this case would look one thing like darkish embers when considered by infrared telescopes. The search started in 1960, when physicist Freeman Dyson proposed it as a manner of discovering alien life. Greater than 60 years later, the hunt for Dyson spheres, as they’re now recognized, stays a minority sport amongst these concerned in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), an enterprise that has targeted totally on listening for radio alerts from different .

However astronomers are nonetheless prospecting for proof of alien engineering. Specifically, they’ve been working to place the pursuit of Dyson spheres on a rigorous scientific footing. Now, they’re poring over probably the most exact cosmic cartography ever produced to attempt to discover stars that might be surrounded by swarms of photo voltaic panels and distinguish them from naturally occurring infrared herrings. They’re already narrowing down candidates. They’ve even begun to suppose severely in regards to the ultimate hurdle: the way to inform the distinction between an infrared herring and a alien megastructure.

Dyson’s unique proposal was fairly broad. In a one-page paper, he recommended merely …



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