Warp drive theory has gone from sci-fi to theoretical physics with the use of General relativity and Special relativity first then building on this with other fields like Quantum theory and string theory or m-theory past the eleventh dimension in some theories up to 26 dimensions. This also includes effects like the Casimir effect and different energy conditions. Now in some of the theoretical models or maybe most of them they seem to try to bring things together with forms of vacuum engineering and false vacuum states. Part of this is that according to what we know the mass of moons, planets, suns, black holes and all mass in the universe cannot account for all the gravity. So it is now thought that the vacuum of space has a part. If I understand this correctly the stress energy tensors bend one way to mass and another way to vacuum space and energy has an effect on both. To make a point it is thought that a false vacuum state is what allowed the universe to expand to half its size in less than a second. It is also thought that a very dense false vacuum state would destroy the earth but the vacuum states in warp theory using positive energy is not dense enough to do that. Warp Drive theory seems to be the most complex field of study there is because it has to take into account so many energy conditions and dimensions.
In star trek a warp drive includes a static warp shell that is off balanced in front with contracting space and in the rear with expanding space. The warp shell is a sub space bubble partly submerged in sub space. This has the effect of shielding part of the mass of the ship from normal space there by damping the effects of Relativity so time does not slow down and the ship weighs less the deeper into sub space it gets. Now each sub space level in star trek is smaller than normal space but connected to normal space so the deeper you go into subspace the faster you can go because space gets smaller and smaller.
Before Dr.Miguel Alcubierre wrote his paper on warp drive this was thought to be impossible. In the Alcubierre Warp Drive the assumption was to produce any kind of bi-polar gravity field negative energy was required. Now to produce enough negative energy for these gravitational effects would need a very large amount of positive energy. He calculated the energy required would be the amount you would get if you turned Jupiter into energy.
To try to explain how real warp drive theory works compared to star trek I must try to show how the theory and terms are different. In star trek the static warp shell would be what we call a flat space bubble. A flat space bubble is a section of time space where the section of time space moves, but the ship inside never moves as long as the bubble is stable. Now this can produce some weird effects the ship is at rest mass and does not build up energy mass, momentum or inertia. In star trek what is called sub space the nearest thing in physics would be the space time dimensions sometimes called branes in m-theory depending on which theory there is 11 to 26 of these branes. Sub space in star trek is smaller than normal space. But if I understand this correctly in the branes matter and energy move faster than in normal space and the deeper into the branes the faster matter and energy move. In the branes energy or matter cannot move below light speed or it drops into normal space. The comparison seems to work better with the positive energy warp drive models than the negative energy models. Also the positive energy models use a lot less energy and are the latest models that seem more possible. To compare warp energy in star trek the nearest I can find is the false vacuum state.
The mass of an object like a moon, planet or star cannot account totally for the gravity of that object. This has been giving theoretical physics a problem for some time. Gravity seems to be linked to stress energy tensors, but now we think that the vacuum of space is also linked to gravity. I read somewhere that the moon is 1/6th the size of the earth but the moons gravity is 1/10th. A false vacuum state was the effect inside a star after a supernova that implodes the star. But now it is also believed to have been what allowed the big bang to expand the universe to half its size in less than a second, because of a false vacuum state with energy on a universal scale. So a false vacuum state can expand space or contract it depending on what kind. Now there are theories about a false vacuum state producing a doomsday effect. But this would be with very large amounts of energy or negative energy. The vacuum state is linked to the gravitational balance. In other words you change the vacuum state and you change the effect of gravity.
So in warp drive theory you need a bi-polar gravitational field with a flat space bubble in the middle. This kind of field matrix is sometimes referred to as a bi-polar gravitational field or a bi-polar space field. There have been many warp drive models put forth some with negative energy some using Quantum theory and other dimensions and the energy required keeps coming down. Now the ones using positive energy the first one I came across was the Hyperbolic Geometrodynamic warp drives. In 2003 by Paul Hoiland a theoretical physicist and engineer who had a back ground in General Relativity as well as string theory. He published a number of articles in the New York Post and in scientific journals. The model he proposes although is not complete because the subject is so complex is this. By producing scalar energy burst fast enough and enough density you can produce gravitational couplings and use this to produce the warp bubble and the space expansion in rear of the bubble then with a magnetic field in front produce the space contraction because space will rebound to get back to a normal balance. His model shows the warp bubble has 3 event horizons inner, outer and flat space. Then the expanding space field in back and the contracting field in front it would look like an hour glass with a flat space bubble in the middle. It is also described as a short worm hole pulled inward in the middle with the flat space bubble.
The most recent I come across with him is the positive energy solution that utilizes an inflation field based false vacuum state. To give an idea of the energy requirements with electromagnetic energy and scalar energy because this is size depended he gave these amounts. The warp metric that utilizes an inflation field base False Vacuum state is about 1000 joules per cubic meter to increase the false vacuum state to 1 joule this alters some of the stress energy tensors of vacuum space which alters flat space from altered gravity. But also scalar energy pulses produce a gravitational coupling that also increases the false vacuum state so together the energy requirements are estimated to be within a range that is possible today to get sub-light speeds of about 600 miles per second from a bipolar gravity field from a false vacuum state if the field can be shaped correctly. Now in this metric the expanding space in the back of the ship reacts with any mass in the expanding field like plasma or gamma rays it produces a gravity repulsive force. And the strongest part of the expanding field and the contracting field is farther from the ship so the fields don’t collapse into a singularity. And according to the math none of the energy laws are violated using all of the current theories because only positive energy is used like in the big bang witch expanded the universe to halve the size it is now in a very short time.
Now this made me think about something according to General Relativity when an object moves fast enough it gains mass energy and time slows down this could be due to a false vacuum state producing bi-polar gravity fields from the kinetic energy ahead of the object. It would produce expanding space in front and contracting space around the object increasing the mass energy and slowing time. Now if this is true than a warp matrix is an inverted form of this with a flat space bubble in the middle. Where the branes come in is in between the scalar pulses the bubble does not have enough time to drop back into normal space so depending on the speed it will drop into the brane that has the speed effect that the bubble is going. Now if we can send signals through the branes we can receive signals also. Another thing the amount of energy to maintain the fields depends on its bleed rate. If a gig joule field is needed then to maintain the field with a bleed rate of 1/1000th per second, then a mega joule of energy per second is needed to maintain the field.
Update if anyone thinks this is fantasy presented as reality look up Harold White and Warp field mechancics at Johnson Space Center, Eagleworks A divison of NASA. He is trying to make microscopic instance of a little warp bubble complete with a York Time perturbations. The warp bubble is the flat space bubble and the york time perturbations is space expansion in the rear and contracting space in the front of the flat space bubble.
He is also working on the Q-thruster that uses the quantum vacuum fluctuations as the fuel source eliminating the need to carry propellant. Like the broussard ramjet that uses the zero point energy field to produce matter and antimatter from vacuum space.