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How would you contain a small star in order to draw energy from it, and power a ship? I'm thinking along the lines of a force field. I need the star visible from the exterior of the ship for aesthetic reasons. (The energy field can distort the color)

I'm making a VR game and I need it to sound believable. I don't want to get into too many details about the remainder of the vessel, but let's say it has to do with panspermia.

I know about Dyson spheres; this needs to be a little different.

I'll have to do some research on what fosters stable nuclear fusion, but I might be able to get away with a smaller size "star" if I can muster up some gravity manipulation device.

This vessel came through a portal that brought matter into our dimension. I think I can get away with stretching reality as we know it by chock it up to my OAI (original artificial intelligence). Think of our section of existence as nothing. Then this ship came like a neuron growing, and making new connections via matter that life can grow from.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, Zach, welcome to Worldbuilding Stack Exchange! Feel free to take the tour and check out the help center. I edited out a bits because it's what we call fluff; we're not a forum, so we try to focus questions as much as possible. I also added a link because many people might not know what panspermia is. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 19 '17 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ there is no such thing as a "force field" - at all! It's one of those things you see very commonly in sci-fi movies, but it just has no meaning at all. $\endgroup$ – Fattie Jul 19 '17 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ Zach, are you aware that "small" stars are HUGELY bigger than, say, the Earth? I'm not sure if the idea "visible from the ship" makes sense you know? $\endgroup$ – Fattie Jul 19 '17 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Fattie Force fields actualy do exist. For example, gravitational field (assuming Newtonian gravity, at least). That's probably not what the OP meant though. $\endgroup$ – Reaper Jul 19 '17 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Draco18s Well, he says no such thing as a "force field" - at all! and no meaning at all which is not quite right. $\endgroup$ – Reaper Jul 19 '17 at 16:10
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A quick word: You want "science-based". I think what I gave you fits this according to what I encounter elsewhere on worldbuilding. I have to say in my defense though: We are dealing with very advanced aliens. What they might be able to build could seem impossible for us. So I'm not going to give you any design specifications. If you want blueprints for your ship and what (magnetic?) field strength is required, I think you should add that to your answer. This answer is sci fi and not sci. I hope it still is acceptable to you.

What you are looking for is called a "fusion reactor". Stars are just objects large (heavy, dense, ...) enough to sustain hydrogen fusion without any help. A fusion reactor is the artificial version of that. Since they do exist more or less, I do not think I need to give you blueprints, you can google that. I'm here to persuade you to consider an artificial star. A space ship could very well be powered by a hydrogen fusion reactor. There are several advantages to having your spaceship being powered by such an reactor over a natural star:

1) The fusion reactor will produce the amount of energy needed for the ship, not too much and not too little.

2) You can build as many fusion reactors as you want. There are pretty few stars around locally, for example our solar system only has 1 and we need that one.

3) You will not face the same problems with radiation, unpredictable outbursts and so on. I'm not saying that wouldn't be a problem in a very big implementation of a fusion reactor, but at least I'd buy that super advanced aliens found a way to reduce unwanted radiation.

4) It is pretty easy to drag a fusion reactor along and integrate into your ship. A star is pretty massive and once you have accelerated, the more mass you have the more inertia you have to deal with. Remember, a small star burns for billions of years. That is a lot of extra fuel you do not need.

5) Stars are pretty big. I'm not sure you are aware of that. All you would see at the end is a star flying through space and not a spaceship with a star in it's tow, but I might picture your design the wrong way. That would be some ship otherwise ... In any case, a star is super bright. Even if you have such a large ship, one might not even be able to see it. Ever tried looking directly at the sun? (don't do it)

6) You have limitations on how big your spaceship can be if you take natural occurring stars. A fusion reactor can have any size you want.

I'm sure there is a lot more.

There are no drawbacks I'm aware of. You might think: But I want a bright light and a huge ship? Well, just make the fusion reactor really big. As big as you want. Make it emit light, maybe not as bright as a star so that people can still see it in its magnificent beauty. But I don't think a spaceship with a real star inside is something anyone would seriously consider doing.

What a fusion reactor is and what isn't is maybe a bit of a debatable topic. One could end up at "artificial stars" (I don't think so though, see my "extra fuel" point), but if you ask me they are still fusion reactors, designed as you please to fit your needs. To the people that encounter your spaceship, it very well might look like they caught a star.

As for your force field, read this for example. Combine it with the Alien technology you just made up. Yes, I know it wouldn't hold on such a big scale, we actually have problems if we want that thing earth-sized. You can just say the Aliens found a way. If you want other ideas (I would go with several reactors that from a distance look like one big star), well, I do not want to write even more stuff if you end up hating the idea.

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A Dyson sphere is only part of what you need

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical method of capturing the power from a star, however if your ship is moving and connected to the Dyson sphere then it needs your 'force field' to stop the sphere crashing into the star.

Stars have magnetic fields and so we could generate an opposing field to push against this and move the star.

I'm not sure, however, how efficient this would be given how much more massive the combination of ship and star would be. You could store energy between stars and top up each time you reach a star rather than carry a whole star around with you.

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In your OP you mention portals, so you have portals. If you can carry around a portal you are all set. Instead of carrying your star, bend space through the portal so that the inside of the star is in your ship.

Your ship could have a portal inside it, or above it. The other side of the portal is next to your star, or in it. Maybe the portal is visible from outside the ship and you can see the star through it. Probably the portal would be so bright it would be hard to tell what you were looking at.

If the portal is not portable (sorry) then this will not work. Although if you open and close new ones as you move along that would be cool looking - the ship would flicker with light.

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The main problem with wrapping even a small star in a force-field to power a spaceship is that freakingly hugely massive compared to the mass of the spaceship. many orders of magnitude and that means many multiples of the the power of ten. Shall we say quadrillions of times more massive. This means instead of powering a spaceship you have just made the spaceship plus its small star power unit much, much, much massive and therefore correspondingly more difficult to move.

The spaceship could do the sensible thing of approaching a star wrapping its force-field around it and recharge itself from the next leg of its journey. When the spaceship needs to refuel or recharge it repeats this procedure with the next suitable star it encounters. This will save stupendous amount of energy needed to lug around the mostly dead weight of the star.

OK. Taking another tack. If the spaceship can actually wrap a star in a force-field and together move around the cosmos it will a technique to reduce the star's mass to what is effectively an infinitesimal amount (compared to the star's original mass). This could be done by manipulation of the Higgs field in the vicinity of the star. This would be an extremely useful technique for spaceships, because reducing their mass to near-zero would enable spaceships to be accelerated to extremely high velocities with only minuscule amounts of energy.

This is mass manipulation instead of the gravity manipulation suggested by the OP, but it will do the job well.

Generally efficient energy storage can do a better job of powering spaceships than carrying around a star to do the same thing. The force-field itself could act as a trap for solar energy radiated by a star and then contain it until the energy is needed. Force-fields could be used to direct and channel the stored solar energy so it is available when and where it is needed. If this solar energy, even from a small star, is stored and captured the amounts will be astronomical. This should more than enough to power even quite large and massive spacecraft.

Please note for simplicity this answer assumes that force-fields of the kind necessary to enshroud stars can exist. If the OP's fictional world has portals and panspermia, then the existence of force-fields is trivial.

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It's the Ronco Star-Eater; the absolutely must have ship refueling tool for your life spreading journeys!

Simply drop a few grains of star-eater nanites onto the innermost (hopefully unoccupied) planet in the solar system, then watch as the little wonders turn barren rock into gray-goo.

Within hours, the star-eater swarm will spread out from the orbital path of the recently consumed planet until they've become an optimal one-nanite thick shell around as much of the star as available mass will allow. Then they will begin photosynthesizing the sunlight into the power which your ship needs.

Once your ship's tanks are full, simply send the suicide signal and the swarm will deactivate, plummeting into the sun to leave nothing dangerous behind. The solar system will have lost a planet, but your ship is refueled and that is a small price to pay for the gift of life which you are sharing.

Ronco Star-Eater, available at all major ship yards and star bases near you!

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  • $\begingroup$ I love this website! The Ronco Star-Eater sounds awesome! $\endgroup$ – Zach Reitmeier Jul 19 '17 at 15:04
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I don't believe any technology would do that. Plus, containing the star would be expensive. What about letting the star contain itself and you just devise something to capture energy from solar flares? It's a lot more energy than you need for powering ships.

You could invent some sort of "gravitational discharge channel" which would look like a lighting path starting at your ship and forming lots of branches ending below the sun's surface through which you suck high energy particles. You could argue that your channel is in fact some kind of small wormhole that your scientists invented. Depending on the size of the channel, you would be able to take more or less from your star. There isn't any point in depleting the star until it becomes supernova.

This is most likely not scientific, but for game purposes, it should work.

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I’m surprised nobody pointed this out before! The “ship star” from Niven and Benford. The two parts are Bowl of Heaven and Shipstar.

The star is partly surrounded by a mirror. This causes one side of the star to heat up and generate a large wind. This is controlled by magnetic fields and funneled into a giant flare which acts as a rocket, ejecting through a hole in the center of the bowl.

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In reality how stars form is when huge masses of gasses reach such large sizes that their own gravity causes enough compression for said gasses to achieve fusion. In this way it wouldn't be all that far off from reality to have the ability to simulate this level of compression through artificial means. This means that through the proper electromagnetic manipulation of plasma you can achieve the effect you are looking for. For the forcefield Idea if its ok for it to be invisible, you could in theory control and contain the fusion reaction inside an electromagnetic torus ring. This would allow for the ring to be seen outside the ship because it is a non-physical containment method and its containment would not obstruct external views of the reaction

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The star is the ship.

Gravity is your force field.

Your advanced beings have bodies of dark matter or something that doesn't get boiled way, burned, or launched to long distances by contact with hot plasmas.

No. Come on. Seriously. If you want your ship to contain all the conveniences of a planet, you build a propulsion system onto an existing minor planet or large asteroid with sufficiently dense composition.

If you want your star-faring race to carry a star around with them let them use a star as their vehicle of choice. It could even carry planets as it goes, for real convenience.

The only field we known of capable of containing a plasma in sustained fusion reaction without a really strong, rigid, not-invisible frame is gravitational. And if you are going to generate a gravitational field of that size why not just do the way nature does? Let the fuel itself generate the field.

Propel it with extreme flares. Maybe give it a neutron companion to use as a valve controller. Refuel it by visiting the center of a galaxy. Travel long distances by the old standard, already mentioned in the question.

And, sure, since anything we could build to control the thing would boil away immediately, the race that travels this way has to be of a sort of matter that doesn't, and, since dark matter is a current topic, we borrow that.

If we don't do it this way, we still end up relying on stuff we don't understand and have never seen, which brings us back to something equivalent to my suggestion of dark matter. And the stuff still has to be such that it doesn't boil away on contact with plasma, and at the same time it has to be manipulable by ordinary matter intelligent beings, which is begging twice as many questions.

So the best solution is just to have the vehicle be a star.

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