Scientists say they may have found evidence of "Dyson spheres" created by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations
ยท Jun 16, 2024 ยท

More than half a century ago, British-American physicist Freeman Dyson proposed the theory of what would come to be called a "Dyson sphere" or "Dyson swarm." In a nutshell, the Dyson sphere is "a system of structures orbiting [a] star, designed to intercept and collect its energy."

Dyson proposed that such a shell would be achievable from a species at high levels of tech development. He also suggested that scientists might at some point be able to observe such structures from a distance.

And though it's no sure thing, scientists may have recently done just that:

[A] new study that looked at 5 million stars in the Milky Way galaxy suggests that seven candidates could potentially be hosting Dyson spheres โ€” a finding that's attracting scrutiny and alternate theories.

Scientists looking at those possible alien megastructures like:

Well, the evidence isn't too compelling. The scientists detected "infrared heat near stars that couldn't be explained in any other way." That was one of the signs that Dyson said we should watch for when observing the cosmos.

Following that advice, the scientists used historical data to observe "stars located within less than 1,000 light-years from Earth." It's a fair number of stars. The result:

So far, we have seven sources that we know are glowing in the infrared but we don't know why, so they stand out.

Now, hold your horses, Carl Sagan: There are some possible alternative theories here. Among them are an "unlucky alignment in the observation, with a galaxy in the background overlapping with the star, planetary collisions creating debris, or the fact that the stars may be young and therefore still surrounded by disks of hot debris from which planets would later form."

So there are a fair number of potential explanations at play here.

Other astronomers, meanwhile, have proposed that the putative Dyson spheres might just be interference from nearby, hot, dust-obscured galaxies (or Hot DOGs), which are "surrounded by enormous, thick clouds of dust" and are "very good at emitting infrared radiation."

The scientists who discovered the potential spheres are more than willing to admit that they might not in fact be what they appear to be. They're going to do what every good scientist does in these situations: Seek more data, particularly via the James Webb Space Telescope, which can make direct observations of the stars.

In the meantime, they're free to speculate:

If you picture ourselves having as much energy as the sun is providing every second, we could do unheard of thing. ... We could do interstellar travel, maybe we could even move the entire solar system to our preferred location, if we wanted.

Fingers crossed!

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