Our current search for extraterrestrial life focuses on combing the skies for radio signals emitted by a foreign civilization within our Milky Way galaxy, but caught as we are in a tight thicket of stars, sifting out those signals is like looking for a needle in a haystack. So perhaps we should turn our gaze to other galaxies and search for evidence of super-civilizations, detectable by such an advanced technological achievement that they came to control the entire energy output of their parent star. Such a technology was theorized in the 1960s by physicist Freeman Dyson, which would be constructed by dismantling a planet with the mass of Jupiter.
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What’s the Big Idea?
The mass of the deconstructed planet, according to Dyson’s design, would be used to build a shell around the star to capture all its energy output. “These [shells] would be detected as anomalous dark voids in a galaxy’s disk. When these voids were observed in infrared light they would glow brightly with the heat radiation from the surfaces of Dyson spheres. This would show that they are not that simply voids where solar-type stars are conspicuously missing.” Given that the Universe has allowed super-civilizations to develop for 12 billion years, were we not to find evidence of such technology, we could reasonably put an upper limit on what can be achieved by life.