A new study conducted by astrophysicist Dr. Dan Hooper addresses how an advanced civilization may one day be able to survive cosmic expansion and perhaps even reverse it, thereby allowing humans to continue exploring space. His recently published paper, Life Versus Dark Energy: How An Advanced Civilization Could Resist the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe, delves deeply into how this is possible and how advanced civilizations elsewhere might already be doing it, giving researchers a guide for how they might find such a civilization
Scientists have known since the 1930s that the universe is expanding and learned that this expansion is moving at breakneck speed in the 1990s. After observations of a supernova with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1998, astronomers determined that this expansion was actually much slower in the past than it is today, and came to the conclusion that dark energy was the most likely reason for the accelerated expansion that is occurring now, according to Universal-Sci.
If this cosmic expansion continues to progress at the rate it is going, within 100 billion years the stars that can be observed in the Local Group, which amount to a whopping 54 galaxies, will move well beyond the horizon and be completely inaccessible to the human race and future civilizations. However, there may be a solution to this rapid expansion of the universe, according to Dr. Hooper.
If the theory of dark energy is indeed correct and it ever becomes dominant, cosmic expansion will continue even more rapidly than it is today, with stars scattered so far apart from each other that we will no longer be able to see them. Another downside to this is that we will also not be able to harness energy from these stars, which will prevent us from space exploration, as Dr. Hooper explained.
“Cosmologists have learned over the last 20 years that our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. This means that over the next 100 billion years or so, most of the stars and galaxies that we can now see in the sky will disappear forever, falling beyond any regions of space that we could reach, even in principle. This will limit the ability of a far-future advanced civilization to collect energy, and thus limit any number of things they might want to accomplish.”
When addressing advanced civilizations in his new study, Dr. Dan Hooper makes it clear that he is referring to a very specific type of civilization and one that on the Kardashev scale would be listed as a Type III.
“In my paper, I suggest that the rational reaction to this problem would be for the civilization to expand outward rapidly, capturing stars and transporting them to the central civilization, where they could be put to use. These stars could be transported using the energy they produce themselves.”
It should be noted this study assumes that our ideas about the expansion of the universe are correct with regard to dark energy and also that an advanced civilization would understand how to go about harnessing energy in the appropriate manner, which would be to construct Dyson Spheres.
Dr. Hooper believes that certain stars would be more useful for this than others, with those consisting of 0.2 and 1 solar masses to be the best choice. These would include stars similar to our sun along with orange dwarfs, which are K-types, along with some red dwarf M-types.
“Very small stars often do not produce enough energy to get them back to the central civilization. On the other hand, very large stars are short lived and will run out of nuclear fuel before they reach their destination. Thus the best targets of this kind of program would be stars similar in size (or a little smaller) than the Sun.”
Dr. Hooper also ponders the idea that an advanced civilization like this may already exist somewhere in space, and the best way to search for them is to look for other galaxies that could have built Dyson Spheres to transport stars elsewhere, which would produce different signals than the ones astronomers have been looking for.
“This provides us with a very different signal to look for. An advanced civilization that is in the process of this program would alter the distribution of stars over regions of space tens of millions of light years in extent, and would likely produce other signals as a result of stellar propulsion.”
If the human race works hard enough and we can progress to an advanced civilization before we are lost forever to cosmic expansion, we just may be able to continue our exploration of space by harnessing and transporting stars.
Dr. Dan Hooper’s new study on advanced civilizations evolving despite dark energy and cosmic expansion can be read in arXiv.