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Stay on target Scientists Discover Possible Interstellar VisitorWater Vapor Detected on Potentially ‘Habitable’ Planet Over the next 100 billion years, all stars beyond the Local Group (comprising more than 54 galaxies, including our Milky Way) will slowly withdraw from the universe.As described by Dan Hooper, of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory at the Center for Particle Astrophysics, the heavenly bodies will “fall beyond the cosmic horizon and become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible, thus limiting how much energy could one day be extracted from them.”This, of course, is nothing for you to fret over. You’ll be long dead. So will your children, you children’s children, and your children’s children’s children.But for the advanced species living on a planet in another star system, this could be a major problem.“On timescales of tens of billions of years and longer, the expansion of the universe will ultimately limit the ability of an advanced civilization to accumulate and consume useable energy, a fact that has only been exacerbated by the discovery of dark energy,” Hooper wrote in a white paper.Fingers crossed someone figures out how to build Dyson sphere ASAP.The hypothetical megastructures, first described in Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 sci-fi novel “Star Maker,” attempt to explain how a spacefaring civilization would meet energy requirements once its planet’s resources are depleted.As it stands, only a fraction of a star’s energy emissions reaches the surface of an orbiting planet. So why not assemble a giant cage that fits around a star, capturing a large percentage of its power output?Great idea! Except that the expansion of the universe continues to drive more candidate orbs out of reach.Hooper, however, has a plan.The advanced civilization in question must simply “expand rapidly outward,” build a Dyson sphere around encountered stars, and use the harnessed energy to “accelerate those stars … toward the center” of their world.Think Dolly Parton lassoing and hogtying her bigoted boss in 9 to 5—but on a cosmic level.“Given the inevitability of the encroaching horizon, any sufficiently advanced civilization that is determined to maximize its ability to utilize energy will expand throughout the universe, attempting to secure as many stars as possible before they become permanently inaccessible,” according to Hooper.Which will ultimately lead us to the discovery of extraterrestrial life—cultures that are perhaps already using Dyson spheres to bolster their galaxies.“It is of course possible … that life has already evolved elsewhere in our universe, and that civilizations far more advanced than our own may already exist within our Hubble volume,” Hooper explained. “If this is the case, then they may have already begun to collect stars from their surrounding cosmological environment, altering the distribution of stars and leading to potentially observable signatures.”Clues such as the odd-looking galaxy, seemingly full of only massive stars—those too big or too short-lived to be of use, i.e., the leftovers—could give us the answers we’ve been looking for.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.