Stellar Propulsion Swarm

Technology for moving stars using their own fusion and mass

Stellar Propulsion Swarm
Image from Steve Bowers
This propulsion swarm is surrounded by a ring-like habitat that will accompany the star on its travels

The Stellar Propulsion Swarm is a method of moving stars by using their own energy to accelerate fusion at selected points on the star's surface. Unlike the Shkadov Thruster this method uses expelled stellar material as propulsive mass, so the acceleration achieved can be many magnitudes greater.

In a Propulsion Swarm a significant fraction of the natural luminosity of the star is collected by a Dyson Swarm, usually arranged in a torus around the centre for stability. Each satellite stores this energy until its orbit takes it within line-of-sight of one chosen pole of the star; the satellite then emits the stored energy using phased-array transmitters towards that pole. This has the effect of heating that pole considerably, causing a continuous flare and mass-ejection only at one end.

The resulting mass-stream is focused and controlled by superconducting rings embedded in the swarm and attached to dynamic compression members extending behind the star. The expelled mass causes the star to accelerate in the opposite direction. All the objects in the swarm must track their distance from the star and use some energy to redirect and accelerate the solar wind to adjust their orbits to track the movement of the star.

A typical stellar propulsion swarm expels around one ten-millionth of the star's mass every standard year, although this figure can be increased if necessary. Using a stellar propulsion swarm a star can therefore accelerate for about ten million years, eventually using most of its mass and reaching a very high speed. The acceleration attained by this method can be many thousands of times greater than that available from the Shkadov system using light-pressure alone.

Several dozen stars in the Terragen Sphere are currently being moved in this fashion, most of them within clusters (either to avoid a collision, or to initiate one). Several stars in clusters controlled by the Solipsist Panvirtuality are being moved in this way, sometimes with relatively high acceleration rates requiring significant mass-expulsion rates and the creation of highly energetic flares.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers (from an idea by Alex Tolley)Initially published on 05 May 2016.

From an idea by Alex Tolley posted at Centauri Dreams
also inspired by the Bowl of Heaven, a fictional construct devised by Larry Niven and Gregory Benford

Swarm configuration derived by Bob Jenkins