Time for D in my Sci-Fi themed A-to-Z Challenge
For D, I’ll talk about Dyson Spheres. A Dyson Sphere is a completely hypothetical superstructure that would be constructed around a star to capture most or all of the energy radiating from it. The concept actually predates Freeman Dyson’s speculations on highly advanced civilizations, and first appeared way back in 1937 in Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.
In sci-fi, the idea is usually represented by a Dyson Shell – a solid shell built around a star. If this were built around a sun like ours, and you wanted to create habitats on the inner surface, it would have a radius of 1 Astronomical Unit – the average distance between Earth and the Sun.
This thing would have a radius of 149,597,870,700 km!
Just think of the vast amounts of materials needed. Oh, and you’d have a gigantic problem – you’d have to put extremely powerful thrusters on the sphere to keep the inner surface at the right distance from the star. If this thing drifts off center, even by a little, things get mighty toasty for anything on the inner surface.
More likely, an alien civilization would use a ring or bubble of independent satellites floating around a star. These satellites could be moved close together to capture more energy, and wouldn’t necessarily have to be habitable – they could just be energy collectors.
In my current fiction:
No Dyson Spheres in Far Flung yet, but there most certainly will be something similar coming soon. I like the idea way too much …
More about Dyson Spheres:
The Enterprise in orbit around a Dyson Sphere, Memory Alpha
Dyson Bubble, Wikipedia