The artifact was constructed many millennia ago. We are barely able to understand some of its technology. But, what we have learned has allowed us to begin exploring the stars. This gif shows the artifact at Procyon - about 12 light years from Earth. How does the artifact work? Well, Hav Rusedra, director of Renegade Advanced Weapons Development has this to say...

"...what appears to make this system work at long distance is the ability to instantly analyze, deconstruct to the sub-atomic level and reconstruct said sub-atomic matter by the artifact's engines. What's even more interesting is the power for such operations are supplied by fissioning miniscule amounts of the target matter. This has led to concerns over repeated transits of Renegade personnel through the Artifact system"