The Alcubierre drive is the only known (or at least well-understood) means of travelling faster than the speed of light. The drive ‘circumvents’ the prohibition on faster-than-light movement of traditional Einsteinian physics of relativity by means of a 13-dimensional ‘warp bubble’ which in a sense contracts space-time ahead of the starship and expands it behind, thus creating a ‘wave’ that effectively pushes the local area of space-time forward, carrying the starship inside along with it.
Since the ship itself never actually moves, and since space-time itself is not subject to relativity, this allows practical FTL travel that does not require reaction mass and is not affected by time dilation or any other relativistic effects.
The primary drawback of the Alcubierre drive is its extremely high energy requirements, which given the physical constraints of a starship can only be fulfilled effectively by a matter-antimatter reactor, and its vulnerability to gravity which requires a starship to move a significant distance away from any celestial object before accelerating to warp speeds.
The Warp Formula
The maximum speed of the M’rowan version of the Alcubierre drive is expressed through the formula W = c × h 1/13 / f, where W is the maximum speed, c is the speed of light, h is the Planck constant (ca. 6.63 × 10 -34 ), and f is the energy transfer efficiency factor (currently = 2).
Expressed in Terran time and distance units, this formula translates into covering a distance of 1 parsec in 6.67 standard Earth days or 1 lightyear in 2.045 standard days; or the distance between Sol and Alpha Centauri in 4.47 standard days.
As c and h are physical constants, the only variable part of the formula, i.e. the only way to increase maximum warp speed, is the efficiency factor, which represents how efficiently energy is conducted through the drive and into the warp bubble.