A new study recently proposed advanced extraterrestrial civilizations might construct energy harvesting megastructures surrounding black holes to meet their massive energy requirements.

According to a Mail Online report, while black holes are "notorious" for their strong gravitational pull that even light cannot escape them, they generate energy as well, in several different ways.

The Taiwan-based National Tsing Hua University researchers investigated if any of these energy sources could be hypothetically harnessed to power a civilization.

Three provide adequate radiation to be feasible. These include surrounding gas clouds, discs of matter that spiral into the hole, and the powerful jets shooting out along the rotation's axis.

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Science Times - Black Holes as Energy Sources: Researchers Calculate They Could Provide as Much as the Total Harvest of 100,000 to 100,000,000 Suns
(Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech on Wikimedia Commons)
This artist's concept shows a supermassive black hole at the center of a remote galaxy digesting the remnants of a star.

Black Holes' Energy Production

Such energy could be captured by using the so-called "Dyson spheres," originally considered a theoretical approach to better catch energy from a star like the Earth's sun.

Nevertheless, the research team approximated, black holes could deliver as much energy as the total harvest of 100,000 to 100,000,000 suns, although from a single cosmic body.

With the existence of Dyson spheres, they would produce a characteristic signal that could be detected. This is because of the waste heat produced, as they transform energy into a useable form.

In fact, customary Dyson spheres, those surrounding suns, have long been targets in the quest for extraterrestrial life. At present, though, none of these spheres have been found.

The 'Dyson Spheres'

In a similar report, the Today UK News described Dyson spheres as "theoretical megastructures" which, also as earlier mentioned, as they were originally considered, might be constructed around stars to better harness their energy.

Despite what they're called, it would be impossible for a rigid sphere to build around a star, or a black hole, due to forces from pressure and gravity.

 They are usually envisioned instead as being made of a satellites network encircling their host in either a spring, swarm-like, or ring arrangement.

As specified in this report, humans don't have the ability to date to construct a Dyson sphere, although they might do so someday.

Black Hole, a Promising Energy Source

The study, A Dyson sphere around a black hole, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal, was conducted by astronomer Tiger Hsiao of the National Tsing Hua University and his colleagues.

Explaining their paper, the researchers said, a black hole can be a promising energy source. It is also more efficient compared to harvesting from a "main-sequence star."

They added, "the large luminosity can be gathered from an accretion disc" that reaches 100,000 times that of the Sun, adequate to retain what they call a "Type II civilization."

This kind of civilization, explained the study authors, is one whose energy needs match a star system's total output.

Furthermore, the team added that if a civilization could construct a Dyson sphere, a "supermassive" black hole akin to the Milky Way, weighing about four million times the sun's mass, the energy supply could still be greater.

Related information about the Dyson sphere is shown on What If's YouTube video below:


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