Dyson Bubble
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Basic Information

A Dyson Bubble is a form of Dyson Sphere. It's similar to a Dyson Swarm, except composed of statites instead of satellites. Each statite maintains a stationary position relative to the star, using an enormous solar sail to keep itself in place. Such solar sails would need to be extremely light in order for the pressure of solar radiation to overcome gravity. They'd need to be about 1/4 the lightest mass we can make a stable sail from currently, but it's possible that some form of carbon nanotube could do the job.

There's a few other differences between a Dyson Bubble and a Dyson Swarm, mostly stemming from the statite nature of the bubble. The bubble would have fewer space habitats because you need a huge sail to support the weight of a space colony as a statite. It is theoretically possible to float something like the O'Neill Cylinder from a 3,000 km solar sail, but that'd be a huge resource cost, and the size would limit how many such habitats you could put out in space at an earthlike orbit. The Bubble couldn't have multiple overlapping layers like a swarm can, because each sail needs near-constant sunlight.

If the components of a Dyson Bubble were built very close to one another, with very small gaps, they could effectively be a non-rigid Dyson Shell. This would avoid some of the problems of the shell design, taking less material and being less prone to collapse.



Game and Story Use

  • For the evil space empire with a lot of money to burn, a Dyson Bubble (or the individual statites) could be used as a weapon or punishment.
    • You deploy a series of solar sails to catch all the energy coming from a star, and prevent that energy from reaching a planet. This would result in eternal night and ecological disaster.
    • Likewise, the Atomic Rocket website suggests that statites can be used as minefield to deny access to a jumpgate or star. That suggests a fun scenario where a paranoid race sets up a Dyson Bubble to gather energy, but rigs each component with explosives (or nukes?) in case an enemy tries to use or capture them. Perhaps the PCs are the intergalactic bomb squad?
  • It's hard to say whether the Dyson Swarm or Dyson Bubble makes for a more interesting setting. The swarm has the fun of overlapping orbits and mixed technologies, but the bubble scores big with the (perhaps exaggerated) notion that all it takes is a large shadow to send you plunging into the sun. Either could make for a good Disaster Movie.
  • See Stellar Megastructure, Dyson Sphere and Dyson Swarm for additional ideas.
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