FEATURE ARTICLE DISCUSSIONS

How the 'verse works.

POSTED BY: MEIMEICOBB
UPDATED: Thursday, April 10, 2008 17:13
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Sunday, April 6, 2008 10:55 AM

MEIMEICOBB


This is actually something I created for my game Out of Gas, but I hoped I could get some critical feedback from some of the more avid players here.

_______________________________________________

It's hard to ignore that Firefly and Serenity have a lot to do with space travel. Not deep space, just regular, between-planet space. In order to better play the 'Verse, first you should understand it. I'm going to do my very best to write it as simply as I can, but I can't make any promises - some of this stuff is a bit complicated.

The Solar System.

It's mentioned in the movie Serenity that when the first settlers came to the new 'Verse it had dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Theoretically that is possible, but if you look closely at the map behind River's teacher, you'll notice that there aren't that many orbits listed. While there may be that many planets and moons, only a handful are terraformed. Cut dialogue from the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" says that there are over 70 terraformed worlds spinning away - which, if you take into account all the moons, that is entirely possible.

I'm talking a lot about possibilities, and I'll explain why. There should always be logic behind something, especially heavenly bodies, or else if you put your brain too hard to it, it'll explode. In order for a solar system to support that number of planets and still have them be habitable and 'Earth-norm" then there have to be several things that have to be present.

1. A slightly larger primary sun. The largest mass in the solar system has to be what scientists call a G-class star, which simply tells the temperature range the star is in. A G-class is the same kind of a star that we have, the Sun. If you know about our Sun, then you know that it's slightly cold once you get to a certain point out from it, and that it's very, very warm at a certain point. The same can be said of any sun and planets. In order to 'fix' that, you'd have to increase the size (and thus the temperature) of the central sun. (Numerically speaking, our sun's temperature is around 5,500 Kelvin. The sun in our 'Verse is about 7,000 Kelvin or so but smaller than usual class F stars, which is the next temperature bracket up from G.)

2. A second, smaller sun. I have mentioned primary since in order for the Firefly 'Verse to work you'd have to have at least a second heat source at the half-way mark in the solar system or further out from there. There are other ways around this, but not many, and not any that would make sense. The distances of the outer planets would not allow for how bright the sun we see is, which means a second source of light (and heat!) is needed. (Our own Neptune is a mere 30 AU [astronomical units], and at high noon at the methane planet the amount of sunlight would be the same as a dim twilight for Earth.)

Due to how bright Miranda is in Serenity, it has to be assumed that there is at least one other sun, toward the edge of space, that other planets either orbit around or are close enough to have the light and heat keep them from becoming ice worlds. It is for this reason that there is probably a very small star, greatly less in mass than the primary star, that orbits like one of the other gas planets, the difference of course being the energy production. The star would have to be cool, but warm enough to heat the space it orbits, and project light to worlds near it and even far from it. This star would most likely be a K-class on the lower end on the temperature scale, maybe 3,400 Kelvin. It would make an orbit around the primary sun, and because of it's size would do it faster than a planet at the same distance, causing the other planets around it to be 'carried' due to gravity.

It's possible that there is another heat source even farther out, a red dwarf, which is the smallest sized star and the coolest, but it's heat and light source would be unreliable. For the time being, until my brain can wrap around it, I'll say that there are just the two heat sources in the solar system, Sole, the second sun, and Sun, the primary. Planets orbit Sole, since it is a normal star, but not as many as you'd think, and again, some that orbit near it, such as Miranda would, only do so because they were caught in the gravity of the sun - they still orbit the primary sun same as any other.



3. Jovial Jovians! A Jovian planet is a planet that comprises of no solid matter and is comprised of only gases. Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus are all Jovian. It could be said that any gas planet is a failed star, one that didn't get hot enough in the accretion process (the birth of a solar system - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accretion_%28astrophysics%29) and so is simply a cooler version of the sun. Gravity and the soupy conditions on a Jovian planet cause it to emit heat, and sometimes, depending on the composition, reflect light. Jupiter don't produce light, but it definitely reflects it and heat to its moons. The same theory works in the Firefly 'Verse - most of the moons we hear about are actually circling a gasser - the 'Verse term for a gas planet. This is how planets like Haven would not only have that dry, hot appearance, but also light.

4. Close, almost overlapping orbits in the beginning of the universe. In order for there to be so many planets, even terraformed, at the 'Earth point' in the solar system (as in Sihnon, Londinium and Osiris, etc), they would have to have very close orbits, or be massive enough to orbit fast enough to heat themselves. Planets like our Mercury are too close to the sun, it's true, so they get pretty baked, but the speed of their orbit around the sun also has a good deal to do with how hot it gets. If Mars, for example, were just a bit more massive, it would probably be warmer, have an atmosphere, and probably be capable of sustaining life. This means that in our 'Verse, there is a combination of these elements. Sihnon, for example, is probably Earth-sized, and Londinium probably slightly bigger but not by much and about a quarter of the distance from Sihnon as Mars is to Earth. It would be like this for the first several planets, up through Hera, which is probably a very massive rock that spins around the sun at the same speed as Osiris, which would then mean it's warm enough to be the breadbasket that it claims.


____________________


Hopefully that helps explain how the actual solar system might work. If you feel lost, it's ok. This is more or less rocket science, after all. Feel free to send out a wave and ask for clarification on any of this.


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Sunday, April 6, 2008 1:19 PM

LEOPARDFLAN


Thanks for that theory/explanation. That all never occured to me (although I admit that I was using the "never mind how it works, let's just assume that it does" meathod)

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 5:13 PM

MEIMEICOBB


Yeah, my brain just can't wrap around something that I'm supposed to ignore the logic of. I'm very serious that my brain almost exploded when I was reading some of the maps out there; I studied astronomy to the point where I almost went for a degree in it.

I don't mean for anyone else's brain to explode, so hopefully if you know anything about astronomy, or are willing to learn here and there, you'll be fine and this should all make sense.

:D


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Sunday, April 6, 2008 5:56 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


Until I have time to respond more, maybe try reading these threads for applicable ideas:
b=4&t=32318
b=4&t=31391

also:
b=4&t=32966
b=2&t=14838
b=2&t=2039
b=2&t=31962
b=2&t=8740
b=4&t=2671
b=8&t=24814
b=2&t=3998
b=2&t=26867
b=2&2345

and I think it is page 23 of the Serenity Officail Companion which shows most of the worlds of the Alliance.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 6:57 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


I don't understand your idea aboout Earth distance for terraforming - doesn't seem like compatible data.
Our Sun has light going out to Neptune, without interference. If an Astronaut is exposed to sunlight without sheilding, they will be burned from sunlight, whether in Earth orbit or Neptune range, right?
Our atmosophere, with "greenhouse" gases are what provide our "thermal battery" - charging up with heat during day and losing heat during night - but at a slower rate. If w4e did not have atmo, our days would be baking and life-prohibitively radiation high, and our nights would be life-prohibitively frigid. Our Moon has the same orbital distance from the Sun, and as soon as a part of it enters shadow, we know it becomes frigid immediately, because it has not atmo. Without atmo, our water would vaporize during daytime every day. Earth's core is molten lava,m but our crust is cool - our source of heat is external, the Sun's energy, in all forms. Our atmop protects us in sunlight, and slows the dissipation of heat during non-light period. (night).
Terraforming is the production (or manufacture) of atmosphere. On planets closer to the Sun energy, the terra forming would need to allow greater dissipation/loss of heat. On farther planets, the atmo would need to retain more heat, or generate more photosysnthisis to retain the heat.

Having a second sun in orbit woud be disaterous. Any world with a moderately stable temp resulting from correct atmo would have that atmo vaporized when the roaming second sun comes anywhere near. If dual suns, they would have to orbit each other, and no worlds in between their orbits could ever be stable.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 7:23 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


i don't see the velocity of the body along it's orbital path (speed around the sun) as affecting it's temp. Rotational speed, yes.
Distance from the Sun.
Rotational speed.
Size of body/gravitational force.

Distance will determine how much heat will need to be derived from phoptosynthesis or photoelectric transferance. (retaining heat from daytime top last through nighttime.)
Rotational speed determines how long the dissipation cycle must last (the atmo must trap enough heat to last until the next sunset, and musdt protect the day-side for the duration of the light period.
Size of body and gravitational force determines which greenhouse gasses must be used to for the outer atmo. Too light, and a lesser gravity will not hold them in "orbit" or attached to the world. Too heavy of molecule, and it will not be able to keep it's height (atmo height off the surface) - and the atmo will be too shallow, subjected to horribly unstable weather.

Some worlds might only be habitable at the poles, or maybe only at the equators.

These are the factors the terraforming engineers must face and conquer. The gas planets did not successfully terraform, according to our BDHs.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 7:44 PM

SIGMANUNKI


@JewelStaiteFan:

Your post is pretty much bang on. The only serious problems being that terraforming is more general http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming and we do have an internal heat source. The latter showing themselves by way of geysers and volcanism among others.

What I think is a more fundamental problem with this idea is that it takes the show/movie way too seriously. The reality of the situation is that the map in the background is NOT meant to be accurate. The reality of the situation is that Joss is known (or notorious depending on your point of view) for ignoring these "universe things" because he doesn't care about them, he only cares about telling a good story. I could go on. But, to make the show/movie make logical sense, all I need say is that "it's just a tv show/movie" and we're done.

But, even if we take this idea seriously, there's going to be massive problems accounting for planets not running into each other. Not to mention the same for multiple suns. Wacky orbits to be certain in such a situation. All that in addition to the problems that you have rightfully mentioned.


At any rate, just another drive by posting. Have a good night

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 10:51 PM

SPACEANJL


There is mention of a gas giant at some point - Triumph is in the Georgia system - so the secondary heat source idea works.

At the beginning of the 'Train Job', Santo has three moons in the sky - I suspect they are inhabited. OVC mentions the use of such tech as gravity regulation, which would negate some of the issues with size, density and rotation. But people still use the terms 'planet' and 'moon' regardless of habitation, seemingly based on size - I would imagine a planet to be a larger, primary mass, the moons, the orbital satellites.

Terraforming is fun tech to speculate with. Some planets won't take (Bernadette is a rock with sealed biosphere, I think, from OVC) I speculated that the Junk Belt, out near Deadwood, is a terraforming event gone awry, a whole planet that came to bits. So I speculate that the tech post-dates the exodus from Earth, otherwise we'd have a whole raft of possiblities in our system.

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Monday, April 7, 2008 4:42 AM

MEIMEICOBB


A second sun circling out past the normal ice zone would work - and terraforming on those planets wouldn't be detrimental, it would just need less. Add in the few gas giants out there as well, radiating the heat that they capture from the second and primary sun, and it in theory would work.

A space-walker out as far as Neptune wouldn't need as much shielding. By the time the light gets out there it's very weak and very spread out. Imagine that it's like a porchlight when you're out in the woods - you can see it, but does that help you? Not really. The area around you is still dark. So you get closer, and closer, until you're very close and then the light is actually helping you to see. The sun is the same way at those distances.


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Monday, April 7, 2008 5:31 AM

MAL4PREZ


I'm with JSF about orbital stability issues. A second sun would be heavy - much heavier than a planet, even if it's a small star. There's a certain amount of mass required before gravity can start fusion and "light" a star. Wikipedia says the minimum theoretical star mass is 75 times the mass of Jupiter. A body that heavy won't be sitting in a happy orderly orbit. The two suns would rotate around each other, and planetary orbits would be all messed up. Planets passing in between them are likely to get spun off into the Black, or maybe even shattered by gravitational forces. When you start talking three suns - whoa. There won't be many stable orbits, not inside or near these three suns. Stable orbits would be far outside.

Really, I just don't see any kind of pseudo-scientific hand waving that can make Joss's verse work, physically speaking. It's just not realistic. I have to agree with Sigmanunki - Firefly is not hard sci-fi. It'll never be astronomically believable.

If that ever bothers me (and it does cause I'm a physicist and former astrophysics major and a tad anal ) I go for engineering solutions. There's more room for fiction there. Maybe the terraforming tech is *so* good that it can minimize or maximum the sun's energy. Big lenses or shields in space, say, that focus or disperse sunlight so that Mercury and Pluto can be equally habitable. And if gravity is a problem - well, gravity is controlled on spaceships, why can't terraformed planets be given earth-normal 1g by giant gravity machines?

I know - it's complete BS. But in the end, I ain't in the FF verse for the science.

(It's still fun to talk about meimeiCobb! I'm not meaning to flame your suggestions. I love science threads. )

-----------------------------------------------
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Monday, April 7, 2008 9:15 AM

SPACEANJL


My husband, the telecomms engineer and non-Browncoat (yeah, right) had a complete meltdown the other day about communications in the 'Verse. Without FTL, you'd never get messages, was the gist of it. (It got technical and scary - I did history.)

Joss puts in some good mcGuffins to make stuff work - positing the tech for gravity is a good one. (maybe it's like Pratchett, and they discovered Devices, or big alien machines a la Total Recall...but that way lies madness and random giggling...y'know, standard AnJlverse stuff...)

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Monday, April 7, 2008 4:24 PM

MEIMEICOBB


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
I'm with JSF about orbital stability issues. A second sun would be heavy - much heavier than a planet, even if it's a small star. There's a certain amount of mass required before gravity can start fusion and "light" a star. Wikipedia says the minimum theoretical star mass is 75 times the mass of Jupiter. A body that heavy won't be sitting in a happy orderly orbit. The two suns would rotate around each other, and planetary orbits would be all messed up. Planets passing in between them are likely to get spun off into the Black, or maybe even shattered by gravitational forces. When you start talking three suns - whoa. There won't be many stable orbits, not inside or near these three suns. Stable orbits would be far outside.

Really, I just don't see any kind of pseudo-scientific hand waving that can make Joss's verse work, physically speaking. It's just not realistic. I have to agree with Sigmanunki - Firefly is not hard sci-fi. It'll never be astronomically believable.

If that ever bothers me (and it does cause I'm a physicist and former astrophysics major and a tad anal ) I go for engineering solutions. There's more room for fiction there. Maybe the terraforming tech is *so* good that it can minimize or maximum the sun's energy. Big lenses or shields in space, say, that focus or disperse sunlight so that Mercury and Pluto can be equally habitable. And if gravity is a problem - well, gravity is controlled on spaceships, why can't terraformed planets be given earth-normal 1g by giant gravity machines?

I know - it's complete BS. But in the end, I ain't in the FF verse for the science.

(It's still fun to talk about meimeiCobb! I'm not meaning to flame your suggestions. I love science threads. )



I love the discussion. It's nice that someone out there studied the physics of things.

I want to throw out there that I do know there is no logic to the 'verse, that I would probably give myself an aneurysm thinking about the actuality of it all, but if I didn't put some form of logic in there, my brain would have exploded. I need some sort of reason to go off of, especially when I try to figure the order of the planets.

The problem with my theory is that I don't have a map, chart, or even a doodle to back up what I mean. I do have an article though, which is what I based my finding off of. I intended for the second star to be small but hot enough to emit heat to nearby stars, and possibly light. I got the idea from an article, actually.

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/A/55_Cancri.html

It's based on a sun-like primary and a red-dwarf secondary star; I figured if I expanded that model, made the distances larger and the suns a bit larger too, it would be able to work. Granted, something of that mass would cause a bizzare orbit unless it was far enough out and it's mass was small enough, but I tried to count on that, though I didn't say. I didn't want to cause people who had no idea what this stuff is a headache.

Then there are the orbits to consider. A planet with a faster orbit has a hotter core and therefore is a warmer planet - the Earth might not be so warm without its volcanoes and its molten rock center. @ jewelstaitefan: You said, "i don't see the velocity of the body along it's orbital path (speed around the sun) as affecting it's temp. Rotational speed, yes. Distance from the Sun. Rotational speed. Size of body/gravitational force." If Mars had a revolving molten core like Earth, it would produce a gravity sufficient enough to sustain an atmosphere, it would be a warm planet that could probably support lots of life. As it is right now, probably not - but that is where the terraforming comes into play. You start up a core in a world and get it going, that's half the battle of making the gravity earth-norm as well as an atmo. As for the planets being burned up, I kind of addressed that earlier, but I'm sure when they account for terraforming that make it so that it's norm for the position in the 'verse, how much light the planet gets, as well as how much external heat.

Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
My husband, the telecomms engineer and non-Browncoat (yeah, right) had a complete meltdown the other day about communications in the 'Verse. Without FTL, you'd never get messages, was the gist of it. (It got technical and scary - I did history.)

Joss puts in some good mcGuffins to make stuff work - positing the tech for gravity is a good one. (maybe it's like Pratchett, and they discovered Devices, or big alien machines a la Total Recall...but that way lies madness and random giggling...y'know, standard AnJlverse stuff...)



The aliens explanation would work, but it's known that they 'don't exist' in the verse, which is why the cow fetus was a high point in The Message. I didn't really want to think about the speeds of the ships or messages, just the order of planets and possibility of life on them or the ability to hold life.

;D

And Mal, I'm not in it for the science either; I started a RP board and I needed to have my board order make sense according to canon and according to logic. It's not completely true, no, but no one but you and me is going to know that. My members don't really look into the science of it either, and as long as I point and say, "It's mostly true" they agree and we go on. I brought it here so I could talk with folk like you about it. I love trying to add a little bit of soothing order to it, just like River, in a way. The 'verse bible doesn't make sense to me and I have to find out how to make it work.

"Bible's broken. Contradictions, faulty logistics--it doesn't make sense... So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden -- eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there... eleven, important number, prime number, one goes into the house of eleven eleven times but always comes out one -- Noah's Ark is a problem. We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon-- Only way to fit five-thousand species of mammal on the same boat.... It doesn't make sense."




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Monday, April 7, 2008 4:50 PM

MAL4PREZ


Cool web site. I like the idea of planet with two suns, it makes for fun sci-fi. I just don't see a ton of planets - enough to make Joss's verse - having stable orbits in that environment. And here's another argument against a two star system: not one episode of Firefly showed a planet with two suns!

Quote:

Originally posted by meimeiCobb:
Then there are the orbits to consider. A planet with a faster orbit has a hotter core and therefore is a warmer planet

Um... huh? Orbital velocity and planetary temperature are completely unrelated.

Quote:

If Mars had a revolving molten core like Earth, it would produce a gravity sufficient enough to sustain an atmosphere, it would be a warm planet that could probably support lots of life. As it is right now, probably not - but that is where the terraforming comes into play. You start up a core in a world and get it going, that's half the battle of making the gravity earth-norm as well as an atmo.
You're speaking some other kind of physics here. The "revolving molten core" has nothing to do with gravity. Gravity is all about mass. It can be hot mass or cold mass or still mass or spinning mass. Don't matter.

Quote:

The 'verse bible doesn't make sense to me and I have to find out how to make it work.
I'm happier to stick with fudging future engineering rather than inventing new physics. It's highly likely that mind-blowing technology will be invented over the next 500 years, (assuming we get rid of our present Idiots in Charge ) but physics stays the same. Not that fiction can't get around the laws - FTL communications (SpaceAngl: have you read Simmon's Hyperion?) or giant sunlight lenses or gravity generating machines, for instance.

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Monday, April 7, 2008 7:02 PM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


I agree with orbital veloctiy and planet temp being unrelated - don't see the relationship.

Regarding Mars, if I understand some things, the Sun is getting larger, and will eventually consume Earth. Therefore is is now hotter than it was before. Mars has water, right? Mars has evidence of a major collision, a large asteroid, right? The Asteroid belt, which some theorize was a planet, or unformed mass, may have broken upn and impacted Mars, destroying it's atmo - with the Sun hotter than when Milky Way was formed, Mars was unalbe to recover it's atmo.
Just a posibility, to ap[pl to your verse operation.

Also, the largest bodies will be in the middle of the orbital rings - Jupiter and Saturn are the largest, with progressively smaller bodies as one gets farther or closer to the Sun. Gas bodies are there for mass - I don't see them providing heat for neighboring bodies.

Planets orbit around the Sun. Moons orbit around planets which orbit around the Sun.

I didn't see a reason that terraforming would not work in closer or farther bodies. The greenhouse gasses that trap in the atmo would need to be different, is all. The photosysthesis is from the Sun's radiation - and PE generates heat. Our at,mo also diffuses the sun's energy, deflecting most of it off, except for direct penetration. Remember that Earth would be comletely uninhabitabel without atmo.
Perhaps think of atmo as our Thermal battery, or charger. It soaks up energy on the light-side and discharges energy/heat during the dark-side cycle. Notice that it is cooler from dawn til noon, but heating up. It is then hottest a couple hours after Sun peak, and reamins hotter as the Sun goes down, and is not coolest at midnight, but several hours later (like 0400), until just before dawn agian.

Give the other planets atmo, and "ADJUST" the plantlife for more or less heat generation (think "more rainforest" for cooler planets), and regulation should be achievable.

The light factor available at a distance is the square root of the comparative distance. However this difference is negligible. How much of the sun's energy are we getting? Surely you understand that Jupiter is getting more, and likey also Saturn, because they have more surface area facing the Sun, although they are farther. Mercury and Venus have smaller surface area and might get less total radiation than Earth. If they were larger, they would have burned up with the amont of Sun energy hitting a larger surface.
Distance does not diminish the power of the radiation - space is a vacuum, how much dissipation of energy do you really think occurs in space? Something needs to be there to absorb that energy. I don't see an unshielded astronaut on Neptune surviving exposure to the Sun. They would need atmo to diffuse or shielding to deflect the energy.
Anybody know enough to reject these ideas? I would like to know if they are not scientifically valid.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 4:44 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

Originally posted by jewelstaitefan:
Anybody know enough to reject these ideas? I would like to know if they are not scientifically valid.

Since you ask... This looks to be funner than work.

Quote:

Regarding Mars, if I understand some things, the Sun is getting larger, and will eventually consume Earth.
The sun is indeed gradually heating and becoming brighter. It lives in a state of balance between the collapsing force of gravity and the outward pressure of fusion in its core. As there's less and less fuel to burn, it burns hotter to maintain the balance. I don't think it's getting larger so much - that will happen suddenly (on the cosmic time scale), when it uses up all its core's hydrogen and starts fusing hydrogen in its shell. Then it'll be a red giant, and things will look very different!

Before that though, the gradual heating doesn't make the solar system more or less habitable. Certainly it moves the "habitable zone" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitable_zone#Circumstellar_habitable_zo
ne
) out toward Mars rather than at Earth, but it doesn't put a significantly larger portion of the solar system in the happy temperature zone.

Quote:

Mars has evidence of a major collision, a large asteroid, right? The Asteroid belt, which some theorize was a planet, or unformed mass, may have broken upn and impacted Mars, destroying it's atmo - with the Sun hotter than when Milky Way was formed, Mars was unalbe to recover it's atmo.
I think you misspeak here - the sun is in the Milky Way Galaxy. It didn't exist when the Milky Way was formed.

Anyhow, I'm sure Mars has been hit by stuff, same as Earth has. But it'd be hard for a body to hit Mars, then retreat to where the asteroid belt is now. Impossible, really. The rubble of the collision would have stayed in Mars's orbit.

A note about the belt: current threory says that the belt is a planet that never formed because Jupiter's gravity was always disturbing things. Which is in line with my argument that two suns wouldn't make for a stable planetary system. If the body in Jupiter's orbit had 75 times the mass, its gravity might have kept Mars and perhaps even Earth and Saturn from forming. The area of the solar system available for stable planetary formation and orbit would be greatly limited.


Quote:

Also, the largest bodies will be in the middle of the orbital rings - Jupiter and Saturn are the largest, with progressively smaller bodies as one gets farther or closer to the Sun. Gas bodies are there for mass - I don't see them providing heat for neighboring bodies.
I agree that gas giants don't provide heat. Jupiter and Saturn don't even heat their own moons, how could they heat distant planets?

However, there's no rule about where the big bodies need to be. A different solar system doesn't need to mirror ours, with the big planets at a certain distance. There may be a limit as to how close in they can be and still have a stable system of many planets, but Jupiter could certainly be further out.


Quote:

I didn't see a reason that terraforming would not work in closer or farther bodies.
I agree. It's just a matter of imagining the right technology.

Quote:

The light factor available at a distance is the square root of the comparative distance. However this difference is negligible.
Whoa! It's not neglible - it's a big deal! It's much more important than the relative planetary sizes. Sure, Earth is larger than Venus and has more area facing the sun, but it also has more area to be heated. It's *rays per area* that matters, and it really does matter. Why is winter on Earth colder than summer? Cause the winter hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and get less rays per area.

Quote:

How much of the sun's energy are we getting? Surely you understand that Jupiter is getting more, and likey also Saturn, because they have more surface area facing the Sun, although they are farther.
Sorry, but this is completely bogus! Mercury receives a helluva lot more solar energy than Jupiter. Nearly 200 times more! (from http://www.udel.edu/igert/pvcdrom/SUNLIGHT/SPACE.HTM)

Quote:

Distance does not diminish the power of the radiation - space is a vacuum, how much dissipation of energy do you really think occurs in space?
A great deal, even in a vacuum! It's all about geometry. The energy is spreading on an expanding surface. Think of blowing up a ballon. A red balloon is bright red when deflated, but as you blow it up it gets to be transparent. The material is stretched thin. Likewise, the sun's energy is stretched thin as it is stretched over an increasingly larger sphere.

Quote:

Something needs to be there to absorb that energy. I don't see an unshielded astronaut on Neptune surviving exposure to the Sun. They would need atmo to diffuse or shielding to deflect the energy.
This I believe to be true, although at Neptune's distance it would take a great deal longer for the unshieded sunlight to do any damage. The harmful rays just aren't concentrated like they are in the inner solar system.

Back to Joss's verse... I think the best way to go is to take Joss's drawing in the BDM as the way it is, and come up with technology that makes that system work. Alternately, do the "official" RPG thing and spread the planets over a few systems that are close to each other. Or, as I've done in my fics, just ignore the problem. It takes 8 hours to get from Planet A to Planet B and 3 days to get from Planet B to planet C. Planet A is hot and dry, Planet B is lush, cause that's just how they are. No explanation needed.

Damn. I'm out of stuff. Guess I have to work now. I tell you, the science you get paid to do is a lot less interesting than sci-fi...


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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 10:01 AM

MEIMEICOBB


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
Back to Joss's verse... I think the best way to go is to take Joss's drawing in the BDM as the way it is, and come up with technology that makes that system work. Alternately, do the "official" RPG thing and spread the planets over a few systems that are close to each other. Or, as I've done in my fics, just ignore the problem. It takes 8 hours to get from Planet A to Planet B and 3 days to get from Planet B to planet C. Planet A is hot and dry, Planet B is lush, cause that's just how they are. No explanation needed.

Damn. I'm out of stuff. Guess I have to work now. I tell you, the science you get paid to do is a lot less interesting than sci-fi...



You know, that is a very valid point, and your soothing tone has calmed the inner OCD in me. I guess you don't have to exactly figure it to make it work, you just need cool stuff to make that other stuff seem less important.

But all that said, and granted, we shouldn't look at the maps they gave us too closely, but even still it's something to consider.

Notice how toward the right of the image there is a bright, bright spot and little bits floating around it. What is that supposed to be if it's not a sun? It's bright just like the one in the middle. And granted, we never saw a second sun in the shows, but there should be a bit of realism thrown in there that they either don't see the smaller sun that far away and only get the second sun, or visa versa. There's a clever explanation, I'm sure, I just can't think of it at the moment.

http://www.leavemethewhite.com/
caps/albums/movies/serenity/
Serenity_0007.jpg
(COPY THE URL & PASTE IT INTO YOUR BROWSER)

Also, about Jovian planets and their heating, and how they do radiate a small amount of heat out to their moons. (I don't think I said planets, and if I did I meant worlds - since moons are also worlds in the 'verse.)

http://64.233.179.104/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=cache:jc66Q17QyAwJ:www.cs.be
rkeley.edu/~samw/projects/ay249/z_heat_sources/Paper.doc


"As seen from the volcanoes on Io, it is clear that there is significant energy is being transferred via tidal interactions between giants and their moons. The amount of energy dissipated as thermal energy is proportional to the phase angle between the moon and the tidal bulge."

And Mal, I agree, it's always more fun to do the Sci-Fi than the actual Sci.


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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 12:38 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
I'm with JSF about orbital stability issues. A second sun would be heavy - much heavier than a planet, even if it's a small star. There's a certain amount of mass required before gravity can start fusion and "light" a star. Wikipedia says the minimum theoretical star mass is 75 times the mass of Jupiter. A body that heavy won't be sitting in a happy orderly orbit. The two suns would rotate around each other, and planetary orbits would be all messed up. Planets passing in between them are likely to get spun off into the Black, or maybe even shattered by gravitational forces. When you start talking three suns - whoa. There won't be many stable orbits, not inside or near these three suns. Stable orbits would be far outside.

16 Cygni B, part of the 16 Cygni Trinary system has been shown to have a gas giant in orbit. 55 Cancri A, part of the obviously named 55 Canri Binary system has shown to have a number of orbital bodies.

In fact there are a number of stable orbits of Binary systems, the two most stable are orbits around a single star, or a larger wider orbit around both. It is possible to have a figure of eight orbit around both stars, orbiting one in a single orbit, then switching to the other and back again, but this is at best semi-stable, and will quickly end with a cosmological planet cannon.

EDIT:
Of course the planets have to form, and this is going to be less likely with the two stars orbiting each other. Of course it says nothing for captured bodies, but captured bodies are even less likely.

The problem is that both stars will 'shepherd' each others acreation disk, moving stuff about, swallowing it, even spitting it out the system completely. A similar system on a less dramatic scale is at work on the asteroid belt, there are gaps caused by Jupiter, where it has shifted asteroids to different orbits, or gone all Shoemaker levy on there arses. Most binary systems have eccentric orbits, with eccentric orbits there's not much shepherding orbits for bodies to exist in, it's either very close to one star or the other, or very far from both.

However I believe both stable orbits (around single stars, and around both) have associated habitable zones.



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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 12:53 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by meimeiCobb:
Also, about Jovian planets and their heating, and how they do radiate a small amount of heat out to their moons. (I don't think I said planets, and if I did I meant worlds - since moons are also worlds in the 'verse.)

http://64.233.179.104/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=cache:jc66Q17QyAwJ:www.cs.be
rkeley.edu/~samw/projects/ay249/z_heat_sources/Paper.doc


"As seen from the volcanoes on Io, it is clear that there is significant energy is being transferred via tidal interactions between giants and their moons. The amount of energy dissipated as thermal energy is proportional to the phase angle between the moon and the tidal bulge."

Well, that's not actually heat being radiated to the planet. What's happening is as the planet orbits Jupiters gravity is 'coming at it' from different directions. One moment it's pulling from this side, then the other, causing the planet to flex and change shape, bulging on the side facing Jupiter. This constant dynamic action causes heat from friction within the planet itself, just like rubbing your hands together.



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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 1:33 PM

MAL4PREZ


Citizen - sure there can be planets in binary systems. But what's suggested here is a particular situation where both suns contribute heat in a way that makes mamy, many planets habitable. The stars can't be too far away from the planets involved.

But the star's gravity presents a problem. I can't possibly explain well without drawing pictures and bringing in numbers, but I think it's inescapable that a second star which contributes useful amounts of heat will also cause orbital instability. If you move the second star away enough so it won't mess up planetary orbits, it won't give enough heat. So you make it bigger to get more heat, but now its gravity is a problem again.

I'm not saying this intuitively. I did look at the numbers a bit. A very little bit. Back of the envelope like. Just rough estimates of heat versus distance versus gravity perturbations.

I have to say though - the figure eight orbit... Whoa! Cool. I like this a lot! How good would that be as sci-fi? You have a year around a blue star than a year around a yellow.

Hey - actually, Joan Vinge's novels Snow Queen and Summer Queen used this kind of solar system. The social and political situation on this planet was determined by its orbit. For ~100 years it goes around a cool, stable star and space traffic comes and goes. That's winter. Then for ~100 years it goes around a hot, unstable star - summer. The folks on the planet are fine in summer, but no ships can go near it. I just loved that.

EDIT TO REPLY TO YOUR EDIT: But is the habitable zone in a binary system that much bigger than a single star system? *scratches head*

Meimei - have you heard of Lagrangian points? It's one way to get more bodies into a solar system. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point)

Oh, and which image do you mean? The one you included isn't working for me.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008 9:10 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
But the star's gravity presents a problem. I can't possibly explain well without drawing pictures and bringing in numbers, but I think it's inescapable that a second star which contributes useful amounts of heat will also cause orbital instability. If you move the second star away enough so it won't mess up planetary orbits, it won't give enough heat. So you make it bigger to get more heat, but now its gravity is a problem again.

I know what you mean, but there's all sorts of possibilities. Binary stars in close regular orbits with planets orbiting both (but what advantage that would have over a single system I'm not sure, and haven't the time to check off hand), Stars in regular orbits that are further away from each other, allowing planets to orbit both. The advantage wouldn't be anyone body getting heat from both, perhaps, but that there'd be two sets of habitable zones. I'll take a better look at it later, when I'm not out the door to work.
Quote:

Meimei - have you heard of Lagrangian points? It's one way to get more bodies into a solar system. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point)
The problem with Lagrange points is that they're not stable in themselves, things tend to 'fall' out of them over time.



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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 12:01 AM

JEWELSTAITEFAN


meimeicobb - what image are you referring to? Is it in a book, DVD, or online?


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
Quote:

Originally posted by jewelstaitefan:
Anybody know enough to reject these ideas? I would like to know if they are not scientifically valid.

Since you ask... This looks to be funner than work.

Quote:

Regarding Mars, if I understand some things, the Sun is getting larger, and will eventually consume Earth.
The sun is indeed gradually heating and becoming brighter. It lives in a state of balance between the collapsing force of gravity and the outward pressure of fusion in its core. As there's less and less fuel to burn, it burns hotter to maintain the balance. I don't think it's getting larger so much - that will happen suddenly (on the cosmic time scale), when it uses up all its core's hydrogen and starts fusing hydrogen in its shell. Then it'll be a red giant, and things will look very different!

Before that though, the gradual heating doesn't make the solar system more or less habitable. Certainly it moves the "habitable zone" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitable_zone#Circumstellar_habitable_zo
ne
) out toward Mars rather than at Earth, but it doesn't put a significantly larger portion of the solar system in the happy temperature zone.


I had read that it was projected that the sun wold continue growing and would swallow earth in some billions of years - perhaps that theory has been discounted.
Quote:


Quote:

Mars has evidence of a major collision, a large asteroid, right? The Asteroid belt, which some theorize was a planet, or unformed mass, may have broken upn and impacted Mars, destroying it's atmo - with the Sun hotter than when Milky Way was formed, Mars was unalbe to recover it's atmo.
I think you misspeak here - the sun is in the Milky Way Galaxy. It didn't exist when the Milky Way was formed.


I wasn't clear. I meant the atmo mars got from the formative years of our galaxy - clearly mars formed after the sun. But I meant tha the conditions were different when mars first got it's atmo, and were sufficieently different after impact/collision that it had difficulty revcovering it's atmo. Also, the collision would have been fatal for the asteriod as well, whcih mayu have originated from the asteriod belt, but would not have returned there. And the asteroid belt woold or could have already existed before the colliosion of mars. I'm thinking something like the yucatan impact - wiping out mars' atmo, not creating more asteroids or large rubble.
Quote:


Anyhow, I'm sure Mars has been hit by stuff, same as Earth has. But it'd be hard for a body to hit Mars, then retreat to where the asteroid belt is now. Impossible, really. The rubble of the collision would have stayed in Mars's orbit.

A note about the belt: current threory says that the belt is a planet that never formed because Jupiter's gravity was always disturbing things. Which is in line with my argument that two suns wouldn't make for a stable planetary system. If the body in Jupiter's orbit had 75 times the mass, its gravity might have kept Mars and perhaps even Earth and Saturn from forming. The area of the solar system available for stable planetary formation and orbit would be greatly limited.


Quote:

Also, the largest bodies will be in the middle of the orbital rings - Jupiter and Saturn are the largest, with progressively smaller bodies as one gets farther or closer to the Sun. Gas bodies are there for mass - I don't see them providing heat for neighboring bodies.
I agree that gas giants don't provide heat. Jupiter and Saturn don't even heat their own moons, how could they heat distant planets?

However, there's no rule about where the big bodies need to be. A different solar system doesn't need to mirror ours, with the big planets at a certain distance. There may be a limit as to how close in they can be and still have a stable system of many planets, but Jupiter could certainly be further out.


Quote:

I didn't see a reason that terraforming would not work in closer or farther bodies.
I agree. It's just a matter of imagining the right technology.

Quote:

The light factor available at a distance is the square root of the comparative distance. However this difference is negligible.
Whoa! It's not neglible - it's a big deal! It's much more important than the relative planetary sizes. Sure, Earth is larger than Venus and has more area facing the sun, but it also has more area to be heated. It's *rays per area* that matters, and it really does matter. Why is winter on Earth colder than summer? Cause the winter hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and get less rays per area.


I don't agree about summer/winter. Winter is when that portion of the globe is tilted away from the sun - not getting the rays PER DAY. the rays per area of the globe remain constant, holding the globe's overall temps consistent - or as consistent as the fluctuatuions of sun output allow.
Regarding proportion mentioned below, was recalling th4e galaxy incorrectly, and mercury to jupiter is too much of an extreme example. earth gets about 8 times the exposure of merecury, and is not that much bigger (8 times). Jupiter gets about 25 times the exposure of earth, and is much larger than earth. theis was the com[arison I should have used. How extreme the technicalities of terraforming can extend, how much deviation can be overcome, is not know, but using comparisons of earth and venus, or eatrth and jupiter are more comprehendable.
Quote:


Quote:

How much of the sun's energy are we getting? Surely you understand that Jupiter is getting more, and likey also Saturn, because they have more surface area facing the Sun, although they are farther.
Sorry, but this is completely bogus! Mercury receives a helluva lot more solar energy than Jupiter. Nearly 200 times more! (from http://www.udel.edu/igert/pvcdrom/SUNLIGHT/SPACE.HTM)

Quote:

Distance does not diminish the power of the radiation - space is a vacuum, how much dissipation of energy do you really think occurs in space?
A great deal, even in a vacuum! It's all about geometry. The energy is spreading on an expanding surface. Think of blowing up a ballon. A red balloon is bright red when deflated, but as you blow it up it gets to be transparent. The material is stretched thin. Likewise, the sun's energy is stretched thin as it is stretched over an increasingly larger sphere.


I don't see it here, either - i WAS NOT CLEAR ENOUGH.
consider one or two beams of rays. the amount of energy the beam has at earth's orbit versus the amount of energy the same, uninterrupted beam would have at neptune's orbit shoud not be that different. I am talking about the energy of the beams, you are still talking about the amont of beams reaching the same square foot - which i addressd above, and was done witth by this point. understand?
Quote:


Quote:

Something needs to be there to absorb that energy. I don't see an unshielded astronaut on Neptune surviving exposure to the Sun. They would need atmo to diffuse or shielding to deflect the energy.
This I believe to be true, although at Neptune's distance it would take a great deal longer for the unshieded sunlight to do any damage. The harmful rays just aren't concentrated like they are in the inner solar system.

Back to Joss's verse... I think the best way to go is to take Joss's drawing in the BDM as the way it is, and come up with technology that makes that system work. Alternately, do the "official" RPG thing and spread the planets over a few systems that are close to each other. Or, as I've done in my fics, just ignore the problem. It takes 8 hours to get from Planet A to Planet B and 3 days to get from Planet B to planet C. Planet A is hot and dry, Planet B is lush, cause that's just how they are. No explanation needed.

Damn. I'm out of stuff. Guess I have to work now. I tell you, the science you get paid to do is a lot less interesting than sci-fi...


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Feedback on these points is welcome.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:38 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

Originally posted by jewelstaitefan:
I had read that it was projected that the sun wold continue growing and would swallow earth in some billions of years - perhaps that theory has been discounted.

No, it hasn't been discounted. It's just the time dependence that I'm nitpicking about. The swallowing-the-earth thing isn't a gradual expansion of the sun, but a sudden change that will occur way way in the future.

Quote:

I wasn't clear. I meant the atmo mars got from the formative years of our galaxy - clearly mars formed after the sun. But I meant tha the conditions were different when mars first got it's atmo, and were sufficieently different after impact/collision that it had difficulty revcovering it's atmo.
So... how could Mars have formed an atmosphere in the first place, if it can't recover one after a collision? (Yes, I'm nitpicking again...)

Quote:

I don't agree about summer/winter. Winter is when that portion of the globe is tilted away from the sun - not getting the rays PER DAY. the rays per area of the globe remain constant, holding the globe's overall temps consistent - or as consistent as the fluctuatuions of sun output allow.
Length of day is certainly a factor, but the angle of the sunlight is a bigger one. To quote wikipedia (though lots of other web sites and textbooks would tell you the same):

"Seasonal change in the angle of sunlight, caused by the tilt of the earth's axis, is the basic mechanism that results in warmer weather in summer than in winter (see Figure 1). Change in day length is another factor."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_sun_angle_on_climate

Quote:

Regarding proportion mentioned below, was recalling th4e galaxy incorrectly, and mercury to jupiter is too much of an extreme example.
You're still confusing terminology here. The galaxy - the Milky Way - is the huge huge conglomerate of stars that the sun and all it's planets is a tiny part of. "Galaxy" and "solar system" are two completely different things.

As for Mercury and Jupiter being extreme examples - isn't that the point of this whole discussion? Seeing if a single planetary system could have so many terraform-able planets as the `verse requires?

Quote:

consider one or two beams of rays. the amount of energy the beam has at earth's orbit versus the amount of energy the same, uninterrupted beam would have at neptune's orbit shoud not be that different. I am talking about the energy of the beams, you are still talking about the amont of beams reaching the same square foot - which i addressd above, and was done with by this point. understand?
I understand what you're saying, but you're inventing your own physics. Your basic assumptions are incorrect. This is the thing:



Sunlight is not a laser beam. Rays may appear to be parallel here on earth and we often use that assumption for applications on the scale of our planet. The distance involve - the top of our atmosphere down to the surface - is tiny compared to the sun/earth distance, so the divergence of the rays is negligible in our little world.

But when you're talking about the distance from earth to neptune, or even earth to mars, the rays are most certainly not parallel, and the beam of light diverges - geometrical spreading. This is a well understood and accepted phenomenon of physics.

You can insist on drawing a rectangular beam if you want, but it'll look like this:



The sunlight doesn't follow the white rectangle. The rays are denser - the light more intense - at the left end of the white box than the right end.

I like making pictures.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 7:04 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by jewelstaitefan:
I wasn't clear. I meant the atmo mars got from the formative years of our galaxy - clearly mars formed after the sun. But I meant tha the conditions were different when mars first got it's atmo, and were sufficieently different after impact/collision that it had difficulty revcovering it's atmo. Also, the collision would have been fatal for the asteriod as well, whcih mayu have originated from the asteriod belt, but would not have returned there. And the asteroid belt woold or could have already existed before the colliosion of mars. I'm thinking something like the yucatan impact - wiping out mars' atmo, not creating more asteroids or large rubble.

I believe current theory is actually that because Mars hasn't a magnetosphere anything like Earths, the 'pressure' of the solar wind actually blew the Martian atmosphere away.
Quote:

consider one or two beams of rays. the amount of energy the beam has at earth's orbit versus the amount of energy the same, uninterrupted beam would have at neptune's orbit shoud not be that different. I am talking about the energy of the beams, you are still talking about the amont of beams reaching the same square foot - which i addressd above, and was done witth by this point. understand?
I believe what you are trying to say is that a photon from the sun, will have the same energy at Earth as it will at Neptune. For simplicities sake, yes it will, but the energy of any single photon is entirely unimportant overall, its the number of of photons that's more important. The energy of received by the sun is subject to the inverse square law, that is if you double the distance the energy will drop to a quarter.



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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:30 AM

MEIMEICOBB


... what they said.

Basically what ends up happening is that yes, Neptune gets sunlight, but as I mentioned before, the intensity of that light at noon there is the same as the intensity of light at a dim dusk here. Something else to consider, is the dispersion of the light, which is what Mal was trying to get at. It's very true that the rays travel outwards from the sun, but they do so in a wave instead of a beam, much like the light from the porch that I was trying to convey. Over space the light (and heat) gets dispersed and thus is weaker; you can still see it but it's the watered-down version.

That is also something that I didn't have time to mention that citizen did; the atmosphere of Mars was blown away by solar wind. The energy put out by the sun is more than light and heat, it's also electromagnetic energy, and a bit of kinetic energy. There is a vacuum in space, it's true, but the amount of energy produced by stars is enough to affect something as delicate as an atmo. When there are other factors aside from the solar wind affecting the atmo, such as a cooling core, planetary collisions, and a number of other things, yes, you could expect an atmosphere to blow away. Couldn't really pin it on one or the other of those things though.

^^

Are there any more points that I missed?


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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 12:00 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by meimeiCobb:
Basically what ends up happening is that yes, Neptune gets sunlight, but as I mentioned before, the intensity of that light at noon there is the same as the intensity of light at a dim dusk here.

I think it's probably a fair bit less than a dim dusk .
Quote:

It's very true that the rays travel outwards from the sun, but they do so in a wave instead of a beam, much like the light from the porch that I was trying to convey.
A small nit-pick, Light is always a wave, even if its a highly coherent laser beam. Well, actually just like everything else it's also a particle, Wave Particle Duality, confusing physicists since 1905.
Quote:

That is also something that I didn't have time to mention that citizen did; the atmosphere of Mars was blown away by solar wind. The energy put out by the sun is more than light and heat, it's also electromagnetic energy, and a bit of kinetic energy. There is a vacuum in space, it's true, but the amount of energy produced by stars is enough to affect something as delicate as an atmo.
Actually there's much more to solar wind than em radiation. I'd also note that heat and light from the sun is electromagnetic radiation.

Space it self isn't a true vacuum, there's actually a lot of stuff out there, around Earth the density is roughly 5 particles per cubic centimetre, mostly charged plasma. It's this Plasma which is basically what we call the solar wind, and also causes the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. These particles tend to whip along at a fair rate, both because they're shot out of the sun at high speed, and driven by the Sun's magnetic field (which is also strengthened by the solar medium, essentially the whole system acts like a giant Magneto-hydrodynamic generator).
Quote:

When there are other factors aside from the solar wind affecting the atmo, such as a cooling core, planetary collisions, and a number of other things, yes, you could expect an atmosphere to blow away. Couldn't really pin it on one or the other of those things though.
I think we're looking at the process starting as the Martian core cooled. Current theory has it (and certainly seems to be supported by available evidence) that its a molten rotating Iron core that generates a planets magnetosphere, the invisible 'forcefield' that literally stops the solar wind impacting a planet. As the core cools, it stops spinning, it stops generating the planets magnetosphere, the solar wind can get at it. There's a lot of power in the solar wind, acting over a long time. I suspect that the solar wind alone could strip a planets atmosphere, no collisions required.



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Thursday, April 10, 2008 5:13 PM

MEIMEICOBB


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
Meimei - have you heard of Lagrangian points? It's one way to get more bodies into a solar system. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point)

Oh, and which image do you mean? The one you included isn't working for me.




I hadn't heard of that; thank you for that link, very informative.

And I fixed the link; you have to copy and paste it now.


http://www.leavemethewhite.com/
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*fingers in temple pose* Ummmm, Fascinating??
Sat, November 23, 2013 14:21 - 2 posts
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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Why Firefly was loved so much
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RE:
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Clothing comes to TV SF
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The origin of Bonny Portmore...
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How the 'verse works.
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hey there, random post!
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Any chance of shuttle 5 views?
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