To combat an expanding universe, aliens could hoard stars

an illustration of a Dyson sphere
STAR CATCHER To prepare for an eventual energy shortage caused by the accelerating expansion of the universe, an ultrapowerful alien civilization could gather stars and capture their energy using hypothetical structures known as Dyson spheres, illustrated above.

Survivalists prep for disaster by stocking up on emergency food rations. Aliens, on the other hand, might hoard stars.

To offset a future cosmic energy shortage caused by the accelerating expansion of the universe, a super-advanced civilization could pluck stars from other galaxies and bring them home, theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper proposes June 13 at

It’s a far-out idea, tackling a dilemma in a future so distant that human beings can hardly fathom it: 100 billion years from now, each neighborhood of the universe will be marooned as if on a cosmic island, with resources from the rest of the universe inaccessible. “We’ll be in this very dark, lonely place where we won’t be able to see other galaxies,” says theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. That isolation is thanks to a mysterious “dark energy” that is causing the universe to expand faster and faster (SN: 4/7/01, p. 218).

Advanced societies might be able to harness the energy of stars by surrounding them with giant, hypothetical structures called Dyson spheres (SN: 4/24/10, p. 22). But the expansion will eventually make it impossible to reach stars outside the civilization’s home turf. Aliens that possess such technology might want to maximize energy reserves by sending spaceships…

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