Assume that you are in an alien star system. Your ship is currently being hit by a phenomenon called solar overflow, which messes up your electronics and can kill you without good shielding. It is different from solar flares or coronal ejections, as the heat is negligible in comparison to the radiation damage it cause, but it can be a side effect from a solar flare.

What you get is a wave of sudden harmful rays. It's something like a bunch of photons hitting everything and breaking every molecular bonds in its path. For the pilot, the radiation caused by this phenomenon can kill him or make him extremely ill. This can be blocked by a particle or plasma shield.

My question, how can this phenomenon work, how can it occur and what other effects can it have on the ship and its occupants?

EDIT: These are two different shields. Basically, the particle shield works by having the shield emitter placed on various points of the ship firing particles at an approaching matter calculated entirely by the shield's computer after input from the sensors. The human only needs to activate it and the computer does everything as long as both the computer and sensor are functioning properly. Visually, it creates a wall that prevents all matter and particles from hitting the ship at a certain range.

The plasma shields are gaseous plasma that hugs the ship instead of being fired outwards. It blocks all matter, by holding it instead of deflecting it in the same way that ballistic gels hold bullets shot into it. Visually, the ship apears glowing blue or green while the plasma shield is active.

You can't have both because the nature of the shields interfere with each other's operations. If your particle shields fire out particles to block the incoming particle, your particle will be caught inside the plasma shields layer.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A space ship should be already shielded from passive radiation. Apha and beta radiation shouldn't penetrate that shielding, only strong gamma rays should be able to go through. So you should look into how gamma rays are created. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2018 at 8:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ One of the better questions this year. Gamma rays don't work because they can't be simply blocked by a 'plasma shield', absolutely not in the quantity needed to break all bonds. Still if you are asking about physics like this, it might be good to demonstrate that you understand it in principal so you don't have a bunch of people telling you to learn basic high school stuff. And explain your shields please $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Mar 22, 2018 at 8:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Raditz_35. I have edited the post to explain how the shields work. $\endgroup$
    – Shion
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:08
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is the question how solar overflow works? Google did not turn it up. How a star could put out a burst of hard radiation? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 22, 2018 at 13:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please note that you can use the '@<username>' syntax to notify one user per comment. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Mar 22, 2018 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


Maybe what you are calling a solar overflow is an Xray burst.

A regular star is getting matter sucked away from a companion neutron star (or, I think, some other comparably dense object; not sure why it has to be so dense). When enough accumulates a burst of fusion occurs, and most of the energy is emitted as xrays.

Because compact stars have high gravitational fields, the material falls with a high velocity towards the neutron star, usually colliding with other accreting material en route, and in so doing forming an accretion disk. In an X-ray burster, this material accretes onto the surface of the neutron star, where it forms a dense layer. After mere hours of accumulation and gravitational compression, nuclear fusion starts in this matter. Often the increase in temperature (greater than 1 × 109 kelvins) gives rise to a thermonuclear runaway. This explosive stellar nucleosynthesis begins with the hot CNO cycle which quickly yields to the rp-process. Within seconds most of the accreted material is burned, powering a bright X-ray flash that is observable with X-ray telescopes. Theory suggests that in at least some cases the hydrogen in the accreting material burns continuously, and that it is the accumulation of helium that causes the bursts.

Maybe something like this could happen without a companion star but with some other large mass donor which wandered close and fell in - a sudden large mass input to your neutron star.

This was not your question but I struggle some with the shields. Xrays are not particles, they are radiation. Radiation like xrays and gamma rays moves at the speed of light. The one shield fires particles at approaching matter (like an Aegis gun) but xrays are not matter and you would not be able to see them coming because they move at the speed of light. Plasma could absorb xrays but you would need plenty of it. Xrays can be absorbed by mass in proportion to the density of the mass. Plasma is the least dense form of matter.

  • $\begingroup$ You can't shoot down x rays with particles, true, but you can use the particle emitter to saturate an area with particles which protects one side of the ship from being hit directly by the radiation. It's not exactly a lead plate, but what you have is something like a low density brick wall. The ship's hull would've been designed to passively handle the usual amount of radiation. Both shields are only there to handle the radiation that exceeds the capacity of the hull design. $\endgroup$
    – Shion
    Mar 22, 2018 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of spraying a several km cloud of lead plasma off the port side as you move along. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 23, 2018 at 20:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .