Effects of Collisions upon a Partial Dyson Sphere
R.L. DeBiase (2008), JBIS, 61, 386-394
Keywords: SETI, (partial) Dyson Sphere, space habitat (settlement), meteor collision (impact)
Dyson Spheres are hypothetical structures built by advanced civilizations, generally for the purpose of habitation, which capture a significant portion of the output of their star. Searches for Dyson spheres and partial Dyson spheres have been unsuccessful so far. Could it be that there are diminishing returns for expanding the space settlement architecture too far? Explored will be the effects of collisions with meteoric material as a limiting factor to the expansion of a system of space habitats into a Dyson sphere or partial Dyson sphere. Estimates of collisions are based upon datasets used by workshops on the hazards of near Earth objects in the early nineteen nineties as well as a workshop on space settlements conducted in the mid seventies. These datasets are then extrapolated to predict frequency of impacts of various sized impactors upon a system of space habitats making up a partial Dyson sphere. Results show that these systems of habitats, even small ones, are vulnerable to much smaller sized impactors than are planets such as Earth. The primary consequence for SETI is a disincentive to build Dyson Spheres consisting of a system of space habitats too large, partially explaining perhaps their apparent lack of detection. On the other hand, any Dyson Sphere of significance will require collision avoidance strategies that may include radar systems much greater than what might be expected for a planetary based civilization.