U=(N/T)M*G: Dyson

The Sun lights up the sphere from the outside, and it hangs like a great golden topaz in the Universe, a jewel in the vast blackness. Surrounded by other jewels of sodalite and jasper and pale, pale rubies. The star is visible, a hazy globe of fire, its largest attendant planets vague dots through the translucent wall.

That’s the first image which came to mind when I read this newest piece to come out of the science community.

New Horizons, the probe we sent out to Pluto back when it was still a planet (Viva la Pluto!), has confirmed there’s an ultraviolet light source coming from a place past the Kuiper belt. The light was first seen by the Voyager probes 30 years ago. It’s an interesting discovery, with a lot of unknowns.

The current theory is it’s a wall of hydrogen smashed between the solar winds of our Sun and the interstellar winds beyond our little backwater. A small chance exists that this light is something else, but we won’t know until New Horizons follows Voyager 1 out of the system. Basically, this accumulation of hydrogen is a giant bubble.

And oh, a lot of ideas came to mind when I found this information. A natural Dyson sphere, for one. Or maybe an organically made one, by some other species. If it’s made by some other species, was it for our protection, like a child-proof gate across the top of the stairs, or for their safety, to keep us in? Also possible, the wall could be the glass between the viewing public and a dangerous zoo animal.

For an author, this piece of science could be an interesting plot point or device. Need fuel to boost out of the solar system? That wall might make for a great refueling station, for such star-travelers as refugees of a dying world or simple explorers of Kirkian caliber. Perhaps the hydrogen wall makes for a great initial protective boundary, one which an enterprising protagonist reinforces with other measures.

Of course, there’s always the slim possibility that light is from something else. The beautiful mystery of space always seems to have that surprise waiting in the wings, until we can go see it for ourselves.

-T.A. Creech

Science in the pursuit of Fiction.

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