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Building a Civilization

April 6, 2016

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, hunkers low in the southwest as night falls — a brilliant beacon that’s less than nine light-years away.

In the crowded confines of a globular cluster, a star as bright as Sirius might not seem so special. The stars are so tightly packed that the night skies of any planet might be filled with hundreds of stars brighter than Sirius — a display unlike any we’ll ever see on Earth.

Not only would those stars look bright enough to touch, but they might be close enough to touch as well.

A globular cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars packed into a ball-shaped region of space only a few dozen light-years across. That means that individual stars are separated by light-months or even light-days — a fraction of the distance between stars in our region of the galaxy.

Researchers recently suggested that if a civilization developed around the right kind of star, in the right part of a cluster, it would have plenty of time to expand to other star systems. Its telescopes could find habitable planets in those systems, and it would take perhaps only decades to send probes to investigate them. The civilization could then dispatch colonists to settle those worlds.

Each world would move around the cluster — passing more habitable planets, which could be colonized as well. In that way, the civilization could expand throughout the cluster — populating many of the bright stars in the night sky.


Script by Damond Benningfield

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