Scientists at organizations such as S.E.T.I (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) have traditionally looked for alien life by searching for radio signals. However according to Treehuggerand The Atlantic, a trio of astronomers led by Penn State’s Jason Wright have begun a two-year search for massive alien solar power stations known as Dyson Spheres.

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If you’re a fan of science-fiction (or ), you might have heard the term ‘Dyson Sphere’ before. Therorized by 20th century physicist Freeman Dyson in the 1950s, a Dyson Sphere is a colossal spherical structure constructed around a star, completely surrounding it. The interior of the sphere would absorb the entire energy output of that star, allowing lifeforms to live on the interior surface almost indefinitely.

Of course, not all stars are the same size, and if an alien race wished to live on the interior surface, the sphere’s design would depend on the size and the energy output of the star. For example, if a Dyson sphere were to be constructed around the Earth’s sun, the radius would have to be approximately one astronomical unit. At such a radius, the interior surface area would be about 28 ×1016 km2, or 550 million times the entire surface area of the planet Earth. Such a surface area could easily support the lives of many quadrillions (1 ×1015) of beings. Anyhow, enough with the science lesson.

So how do Wright and his Penn State team aim to find a Dyson Sphere? Well, apparently they won’t be looking for solid shells. “Even though there is enough mass in our solar system to construct a solid sphere, such a structure would not be mechanically feasible,” Wright said to The Atlantic. “It would probably have to be more like a swarm of collectors.”

This ‘swarm of collectors’ is known as a Dyson Ring, which would technically be much easier to build than a solid sphere. A Dyson Swarm could consist of many Dyson Rings – enough to encircle the star from all directions. Here’s hoping they find something – maybe aliens could give us some tips on intergalactic solar energy technology!

Via The Atlantic/Treehugger

Images: Wikimedia Creative Commons