• An astrophysicist explained how a stellar engine can move the Solar System
  • A stellar engine can be used to avoid catastrophic cosmic events
  • Space colonization can be made easier using a stellar engine

A controversial study proposed using a stellar engine to move the entire solar system to a different location. According to a scientist, this will enable Earth to avoid a destructive asteroid shower or supernova event.

The idea of a stellar engine was proposed by astrophysicist Matthew Caplan from Illinois State University. It was detailed in a study published in Acta Astronautica. Dubbed as the Caplan Thruster, the scientist said that the stellar engine could be positioned near the Sun where it will gather fuel in the form of hydrogen and helium from the solar winds.

These two fuel sources will be used to power two jets of energy. The first one, which uses helium, will propel the Caplan Thruster while the hydrogen-powered jet will push against the Sun. Like a tugboat, the Caplan Thruster would be used to move the giant star.

The Caplan Thruster was conceptualized based on the concept that the Sun’s gravity controls the movement of the planets within the Solar System. Once the Sun moves, the other planets will follow. Caplan noted that based on his calculations, the Caplan Thruster could move the entire Solar System 50 light-years from its original position within 1 million years. According to Science Alert, this rate is fast enough to escape the effects of a nearby supernova event.

As explained by Caplan, a stellar engine can be used in order to nudge the Solar System away from cosmic threats such as asteroid strikes, violent star explosions and even black hole collisions. Aside from these, Caplan noted that the Caplan Thruster can also be used to assist in the colonization of another planet or star system.

The astrophysicist explained that through the stellar engine, Earth or the entire Solar System can be moved near a planet or another system. This will make the transportation of people and resources between Earth and an alien planet much easier.

“Stellar engines, megastructures used to control the motion of a star system, may be constructible by technologically advanced civilizations and used to avoid dangerous astrophysical events or transport a star system into proximity with another for colonization,” Caplan wrote in the abstract of his study.

NASA Solar System Montage - planets, comet, asteroid
This is an artist conception of a solar-system montage of the eight planets, a comet and an asteroid. NASA/JPL