In Search of … Alien Megastructures

The Hubble Telescope opened up and increased our knowledge of the universe exponentially. Its unprecendented success opened up the possibility of putting up even more powerful telescopes in space for us to learn more about our Universe.

One such project is the ATLAST, or the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope, scheduled to launch between 2025 to 2035. The ATLAST would be several times more powerful than the current Hubble Telescope. The project’s main mission, is to find habitable planets in the universe by analyzing its composition.

However, aside from its primary mission, one intriguing use for the ATLAST and its successors I think is its ability to detect alien mega structures.

‘Extra-Terrestrial Megastructures’
In 1960, Physicist Freeman Dyson postulated in a major scientific journal that if you look at the history of human civilization, one major theme that he noticed as we grew more advanced we tended to consume more and more energy for our use.

Consquently, as we grow even more advanced, then we would be needing even more and more energy, to the point that somewhere in our distant future, we would be seeking to exploit the vast energy of a star.

This is because stars offer enormous energy, and lasts for incredibly long time, measured in billions of years. Harnessing such energy would be accomplished by building large, artificial structures around the star.

Now, if this is true for our civilization, then perhaps it would also be true for any extra-terrestrial civilizations that might be out there. If we assume that these ETs are more advanced that us, then they might have constructed it already.

One of the earlier descriptions of these structures became known as the so-called “Dyson Sphere”, which basically is like a large outer shell around the star; Later this evolved to other forms, like as what Scientist Dan Alderson postulated, a large disk around a star that would also serve similar purposes, and is known as the “Alderson Disk”.

‘Are They Out There?’
Whatever form it takes, it will have two main characteristics:
– It will have to extraordinarily large, in the scale of planets and stars, whether as a single structure, or the combined volume of various structures;
– And that it would certainly also be releasing vast amounts of electromagnetic radiation in an unnatural or anomalous way.

Both of these characteristics would be detectable by telescopes in space such as the ATLAST, depending of course of their relative distances from the Earth. So somewhere out there, there might just be a star with an anomalous electromagnetic radiation signature, and around which large, artificially created structures might be observed.

Such structures can only be constructed by a highly intelligent, highly evolved extra-terrestrial race that is not only hundreds, or even thousands of years ahead of us, but most probably tens of thousands of years ahead of us.

At any rate, such discovery would mean absolute proof that we are not alone in the Universe, that there are other intelligent, highly evolved beings out there, without them having to land in the White House lawn on an Unidentified Flying Object. The discovery of such structures would one of the greatest achievements of the human race.


– Freeman Dyson, Wikipedia Article,

– Dan Alderson, Wikipedia Article,

– Ringworld, Wikipedia Article,

– ATLAST official website,


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