Researchers at the University of Sydney recently turned their attention to a concept called “Alcubierre warp drive”, which would “propel a ship at superluminal speeds by creating a bubble of negative energy around it, expanding space (and time) behind the ship while compressing space in front of it”. The researchers’ attempts to determine what its effect would be on the universe resulted in a conclusion that could be aptly described as “catastrophic”.
…Space is not just an empty void between point A and point B… rather, it’s full of particles that have mass (as well as some that do not.) What the research team — led by Brendan McMonigal, Geraint Lewis, and Philip O’Byrne — has found is that these particles can get “swept up” into the warp bubble [when traveling faster than light] and focused into regions before and behind the ship, as well as within the warp bubble itself.
When the Alcubierre-driven ship decelerates from superluminal speed, the particles its bubble has gathered are released in energetic outbursts. In the case of forward-facing particles the outburst can be very energetic — enough to destroy anyone at the destination directly in front of the ship.
“Any people at the destination,” the team’s paper concludes, “would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion due to the extreme blueshifts for [forward] region particles.”
Obviously, this is horrible news if you were planning your own full-scale Enterprise.