Use Stellar Engines To Move The Sun And Stars!

Unlocking the potential of a Stellar Engine to move stars and reshape the universe. We delve into the science and of this concept.

Video of the day January 10th 2020


From what a Stellar Engine is, to how it could help change the universe as we know it! Join us as we explore how to move a star with a Stellar Engine!

What is a Stellar Engine?

So you might be thinking right now, what exactly is a Stellar Engine? Don’t worry if you’re confused by its name and concept, it’s a very “out there” idea, but one that could work in doing various things for humanity, including moving a star like our sun.

But you might be thinking, “is that even possible?” and the answer is…yeah, technically it is. Granted, it’s something that would be very advanced, and by “advanced” I mean with technology that we don’t have right now. After all, anything that would help move the sun is required to…you know…be AROUND the sun in order to get it to go anywhere? Which is why most agree that the notion of a Stellar Engine is one that is rooted deep in science-fiction at present, although the principles are rooted in science fact.

In fact, there are multiple models of a Stellar Engine that could theoretically be built if all the pieces fall into place, and their construction would be rooted in the world of…physics! These two versions are the “Active Method’ and the “Passive Method”.

The Passive Method is also known as the Shkadov Thruster, and it works a lot simpler than you might expect. I want you to think of the “thruster” as nothing more than a massive bowl that is placed “around” the sun. For a visual, think of a fruit bowl, with its semi-circular shape and its curves. That is one of the most important aspects of this method, because the plan would be to place it “around” the sun (more on direction later) and then let the suns’ nature take course.

What exactly does that mean? It’s simple, one of the reasons the sun stays in place more or less is because of all the photons it’s emitting. While it’s true that the sun is being pulled by the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the position that it’s in relative to our solar system stays the same. that’s why the Earth and the other planets don’t get closer or farther from it.

The photons that it’s emitting keep it in place. Which is great, as that helps keep our solar system stable. But if it weren’t balanced? The sun would move out of position, and that’s what the Shkadov Thruster would do. It would “capture” and then reflect the photons being produced by the sun, and push them back in the direction that we would need the sun to move. Basically making it a rocket engine without the need for manual ignitions or various other things, because the sun is going to be doing all the work itself!

Now, to be clear, while the Shkadov Thruster is a viable option (in terms of it actually being feasible within the laws of physics itself), there are a couple of things that would need to be done to make this thruster work…and it wouldn’t be that easy even with advanced technology.

First off, let’s talk about the shape of the thruster. I noted that you should picture a fruit bowl in regards to what the thruster would look like. And that’s a good place to start, but if it was a true fruit bowl shape, it would honestly cause problems. Like what? How about reflecting the sunlight and radiation inwards towards the sun instead of reflecting it outward. This would cause all sorts of issues, including turning the star into another kind of star…and likely blowing up. So yeah, not good. So we would need the thruster to be in the shape of a parabola, that way it would reflect everything just right and not cause more problems that it could solve.

Second in terms of big problems is placement. If we’re going to be reflecting massive amounts of sunlight and radiation out into the solar system. Can you tell me what the problem is with just putting it out in a random direction? The answer is that if we angle it the wrong way, the planets would likely be overwhelmed by the radiation and increased sunlight that is being blasted their direction. Just in the case of Earth, if we were hit by that, we would die more than likely once we get inside of its range. 

So how would we counter something like that? The answer is infinitely simple, we just make sure we “point” the intense heat and radiation in a direction that won’t affect the planets. Which is easy to do per se as planets all rotate on a circular axis more or less, and thus to not affect them, we’d just have to put the thruster “above” the sun so that the thrusters would be pointed down, and we can move without damaging the planets for the most part.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, if we do that, wouldn’t we be limiting what we could do in terms of direction? Wouldn’t we only be able to go in one direction?” And the answer to that is yes. We wouldn’t want to move the thruster itself due to the dangers that could pose, so we’d need to keep it limited to one spot for however long we need to move. So because of that, our “trajectory” in terms of what we could in space in regards to travel would be limited. But…with space being so big…that may not be an issue per se. Unlike the construction of the thruster itself.

Because easily the hardest part of making this thruster is going to be the fact that we need it to be larger enough to fit around the sun in just enough space to reflect the photons down so that we can move it, it needs to be made of a super thin material so that the photons have the power to move everything, and most importantly, it has to be made of a material that can catch the photos and move them without being damaged.

If you’re keeping track, that’s a lot of work and a lot of materials and a lot of issues that need to be overcome. Which is why the thruster is a bit ‘sci-fi’ right now. As it’s not something we could ever think of doing right now. Not to mention the amount of materials to make a parabola capable of doing this may be beyond what’s on Earth right now.

And there’s something else you’re likely not thinking about. Mainly, we would have to build this…IN SPACE! Yeah, we’d need to build this in space (as the parabola would be bigger than Earth) and then we’d need to take this massive thing that we have built and then move it (somehow…) to the sun itself! Does that sound easy? Because it isn’t, not even close.

TextSpaced | Caplan_Anders-Stellar-Engine

But let’s just say for the sake of argument that we as a civilization somewhere in the future could build, place, and then move the sun/solar system with this version of the Stellar Engine. Is that it? Is every problem solved? No, not even close, because though the engine would be “at work”, it would be an incredibly SLOW engine. Based on projections, IF we were able to make a Passive Stellar Engine like the Shkadov Thruster, then we would be able to move our sun and solar system about 100 light years away from where we are right now…in about 230 million years. For the record, that’s not fast, at all.

So because of that, there needs to be another way of moving everything and doing it at a right that would…you know…actually fulfill the goal in a good amount of time? Thankfully, one astrophysicist thought of one, and published it in a paper that is available for all to see.

Before we get into this activate Stellar Engine model, be sure to like the video and subscribe to the channel! That way you don’t miss ANY of our weekly videos!

Challenges and Considerations of the Caplan Thruster

So the more active version of the Stellar Engine is known as the Caplan Thruster. And thankfully, this one is a lot easier to picture and explain, and again uses real-world physics and machines (more or less) to get the job done. To think of this thruster in the most basic of ways, it’s a rocket engine. One that is powered by the sun itself and a Dyson Sphere (a machine that is built around the sun to harness its limitless power) to make itself go. Not unlike a regular rocket engine, it’ll propel the sun forward by using nuclear fission to create an explosion out the end of the thruster itself. We talked about in this post.

Now, obviously, to move the sun (and by extension the solar system), this thruster would need to be the size of a large space station. I’m talking like Babylon 5 or Deep Space Nine, if not bigger.

The other big problem is the energy output that would need to be collected in order to make it work. At its core, the problem is a simple fix. The Hydrogen and Helium that are already a part of the suns natural process would go and be collected via the Caplan Thruster and converted into energy. But…it wouldn’t be enough on its own. That’s where the power of the Dyson Sphere would emerge. It would focus power onto the spot of the sun the thruster is in front of, and basically disperse the natural matter of the sun so that it could be collected by the thruster, turned into energy, and thus, give the thruster the power to move a star.

What’s more, to ensure that the thruster isn’t damaged by the sun by getting too close to it, we would actually emit another beam of energy via the Helium that the thruster has absorbed and push it back at the sun, thus countering the thrusters propulsion and making sure that the sun keeps a good distance away from the rocket.

By the numbers, if the Caplan Thruster were to work, it would be able to move our solar system many lightyears away in just 1 million years. Sure, that doesn’t solve more immediate issues, but it’s a lot faster than the passive engine by a wide margin.

What might surprise you though is that this version of a Stellar Engine has a major upside in terms of the health of our sun. Because you might think that using this kind of engine is bad for the star, as we’re “draining” the life out of it just to move. But that’s honestly not the case, the sun has plenty of mass to spare, and then some. What’s more, by doing the process like we would have it on the thruster, we would be EXTENDING the life of our sun by billions of years because of the gas transfer. So not only are we moving our solar system, we’re ensuring that it stays around for a long time.

Future Prospects and Limitations

But of course, there are major problems with this one too. Not the least of which is that to make the thruster work, we’d need a Dyson Sphere. Which unlike the previous thruster, would actually need to go COMPLETELY around the sun. Not consuming it for the record (though some Dyson Sphere’s do that depending on the model) think of it more like a very thick hula hoop around the sun. That’s what we would need to build FIRST before the engine itself was ever made. Then, we’d need to make sure the engine would work with the sun, be able to maintain its distance long term, and so on and so forth. That’s a lot that can go wrong, don’t you think? Which is why even this Stellar Engine is rooted in science-fiction…for now.

Which brings us to the final question, “Why would we even want to move our sun and the solar system?”

The answer to that…is space. Not space as in we need MORE space, but rather, while our solar system is seemingly perfect in its balance and placement in the universe…the rest of the universe honestly isn’t like that at all. There are numerous things out there that can honestly cause major havoc for our planet and solar system if we are unlucky. For example, if a supernova was to happen in a nearby region of our galaxy, that could severely affect us just from the gravity alone. 

Or, we could have a massive asteroid come our way, and so on and so forth. There may come a time when we NEED to move, and moving the solar system is our best option. And in case you’ve been thinking, “how does moving the sun move the solar system?”, you need to remember that everything moves with the sun. The suns gravity holds ALL the sway with the planets and such. So if we were to build a Stellar Engine, the Earth and the remaining planets would be fine in terms of not falling out of orbit.

Naturally, there are other things that could deter said plans, not the least of which is a gravity pull from another galaxy, star, or even a black hole. Also, as noted earlier, our direction wouldn’t be the most easy to control or plan around. Even with the more active engine, there would be problems with steering, and no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and in this case, the enemy is space.

But in truth, while it’s fun to think and plan about all of this stuff, this is something that the generations that come after us would have to plan for and think about constructing. It’s far beyond what we have now, but it’s possible that someday…somehow….our solar system will become the largest spaceship ever.

Thanks for watching everyone! What did you think of the Stellar Engines and what it could mean for our solar system in the future? Do you think that we will be able to make one soon enough? Do you think we’ll be able to ride space without a ship? Let me know in the comments below, be sure to subscribe, and I’ll see you next time on the channel!

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