Our universe is expanding at an accelerating pace due to mysterious dark energy. And the major problem is that, eventually, everything will be so spread out that no new stars can form, and the universe ends.
But don’t give up all hope just yet. Because a researcher – Dan Hooper from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois – has suggested a rather novel way aliens could survive this. They could, he says, move stars closer together to prolong their existence. His paper is available on arXiv.
“[I]n order to maximize its access to useable energy, a sufficiently advanced civilization would chose to expand rapidly outward, build Dyson Spheres or similar structures around encountered stars, and use the energy that is harnessed to accelerate those stars away from the approaching horizon and toward the center of the civilization,” Hooper writes.
He notes that in 100 billion years, most stars in other galaxies will move beyond the “cosmic horizon”, which means you won’t be able to see them anymore. And you wouldn’t be able to reach them, either.
That poses a problem for, say, getting enough energy to keep your civilization alive. So before all that happens, Hooper suggests that aliens could use spacecraft to grab stars from elsewhere and bring them closer.
To do so would require a structure like the aforementioned Dyson Sphere – which involves encapsulating a star in some sort of structure to harness its energy. Hooper doesn’t provide an exact method for doing this, but he does note that stars slightly smaller than the Sun will probably be best, as they’ll live quite a long time and provide a decent amount of energy.
“If we knew that all the fossil fuels were only going to be there for another decade and then they’d be gone… I guarantee you we’d grab it all so we could use it eventually,” Hooper told New Scientist.
He added to Science News that if aliens were already doing this, then we’d be able to spot them doing it. A lack of stars in one region, for example, could be a sign that aliens have already scooped them up for personal use. Sneaky.
In both articles, it’s noted that it might simply be easier to expand your civilization with the universe, or use the existing clusters of stars – namely, galaxies – that already exist. Aliens could just move to a more densely populated cluster.
Ultimately any civilization will be doomed in about 100 trillion years, when the last stars are expected to die out, regardless of where they are. In that intervening time, however, you might just want to stock up on as many stars as you can.