Great Mischief in the Great Expanse – WIF Space

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Most

Terrifying Places

in

the Known Universe

Like Great Cthulhu, who lies dead and dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh, or the nuclear chaos–the blind idiot god–Azathoth, in HP Lovecraft’s stories and other cosmic horror stories, the universe is home to planets and celestial objects that defy our expectations and exhibit truly horrific environments–where humankind was surely never meant to voyage.

10. Trappist-1

Imagine that you stand on the surface of an alien world, where the sky burns dark and crimson, oceans of magma stretch from horizon to horizon and volcanoes constantly resurface the planet. A red globe of light rises slowly above the horizon, but unlike Earth’s star, it barely provides any light at all. Five other worlds appear as moons, forever drifting in the dark, threatening one another in their eternal celestial dance. Brilliant auroras fill the sky, burning and caressing the atmosphere, irradiating the surface and anything that dares to draw breath.

The Trappist-1 system may be the best hope for finding an Earth-like planet yet, with each of its seven planets being very Earth-like. Scientists think that many, if not all, have some sort of atmosphere and feature liquid water.

But—there’s always a but, isn’t there?—it may also be terribly inhospitable.

So far, evidence suggests that these worlds orbit their parent star peacefully. But, if our system is any indication, orbits are rarely static. Earth itself has at times exhibited a more elliptical orbit (which has been used as a possible explanation for our many ice ages).

A bigger threat to emerging life and habitability in the Trappist-1 system, however, may be a process called magnetic induction, causing many of the innermost worlds (even those in the habitable zone) to have oceans of flowing magma (like Io, which orbits Jupiter).

There is also the fact that super-cool dwarf stars like Trappist-1 are extremely active. They flare more than our star does, and this could prove to be particularly dangerous for the planets that orbit at such close proximity.

Trappist-1 is also a very dim star. Super cool dwarfs don’t emit much visible light, so processes like photosynthesis may be impossible. So, we can probably rule out rich vegetation.

9. Wasp-12b Exoplanet

A black shape transits across the surface of a star not unlike our own. It glows with an eerie iron red halo as its parent star devours it, the tidal forces squishing it and inflating the atmosphere until it’s nearly the size of Jupiter.

Welcome to WASP-12b. Deep in the Auriga constellation. Where the tidal forces of its dwarf star parent are so great, they stretch the planet into the shape of a football, and diamond is as abundant as limestone is on Earth. Despite how close the planet is to its star, it emits almost no light, making it one of the darkest exoplanets ever discovered.

But it won’t be around for long, because its host star is devouring it.

8. PSO J318.5-22

In the depths of interstellar space, a lone rogue burns on through the darkness. From within its raging dust clouds, there is no star in the ever-night sky. But, even with no star to warm its skies, somehow, its temperatures rage on into the 800s, and it rains rocky debris and pure iron.

PSO J318.5-22 is a rogue planet, a lonely, wandering jovian class world with no star to call its home. It exists some 80 light years away in the constellation capricornus. The planet is thought to be six times larger than Jupiter, and, surprisingly warm for a free-floating object.

The object is part of a group of stars which formed almost 12 million years ago. That’s relatively recent in cosmic terms. Scientists aren’t quite sure how objects like these end up floating all by their lonesome in the depths of interstellar space.

7. Mira: A Real Shooting Star

Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night. There’s an odd glow visible from your bedroom window. You go outside and stare up at the night sky. You see a new, bright object in the night sky. At first, you think it’s a comet. But, soon realize that it’s not. It’s a star, shedding its material much like a comet.There’s just one problem, your world is in its way.

You’ve heard of so-called “shooting stars,” which you’ve probably also learned are nothing more than meteoroids burning up in our atmosphere. But what if we told you there were real shooting stars out in the blackness of space?

With a tail of cosmic gas and debris that stretches 13 light years, Mira is quite special. It’s actually part of a binary system, and its partner (Mira-B) feeds off of its stellar partner. A bow shock forms in front of the star, as it swallows up cosmic dust and gas and anything unlucky enough to get in its way.

So, what’s so terrifying about this? Imagine if our world were in its way.

6. Wandering Black Holes (Black Holes)

You’re looking through a telescope, focusing on Jupiter. You notice something warping the stars around the planet’s bright surface. Then, you see a large trail of gas and dust stretching from Jupiter to a dark spot, hurtling through space toward you.

The earth rumbles, and you realize that it’s all over for humanity.

Wandering black holes are terrifyingly common in our Milky Way Galaxy. Scientists have found two possible Jupiter-sized black holes in gas clouds using ALMA, a set of 66 telescopes spread throughout the Atacama Desert in Chile. And it’s thought there are close to 100,000,000 black holes in our galaxy alone.

But what would happen if such a black hole came close to us? Well, unfortunately, if a wandering black hole got anywhere near our star system, the results would be disastrous, throwing the orbits of every planet, even our Sun, into utter chaos. The most terrifying part? We wouldn’t see it coming until Jupiter and the other gas giants ended up getting their atmospheres gobbled up by the black hole’s immense gravity, creating an accretion disk.

5. Supermassive Electric Current

From the bright core of a spiral galaxy shoots a massive jet of glowing material. Getting any closer than 150,000 light years would mean certain death due to immense radiation and the strongest electric field in the universe.

Equalling about a trillion bolts of lightning, the cosmic jet resulting from the supermassive black hole at the core of galaxy 3C303 is the strongest electric current ever detected in the known universe. Scientists aren’t sure why the electric field is so powerful but theorize that it has something to do with the jets created by the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

Considering that the Milky Way is only estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter, that’s quite impressive, if not terrifying.

4. Hand of God

From the depths of space, the apparition of a ghostly hand reaching up to grab the corpse of a star that went supernova. It flashes with dangerous x rays, filling the pulsar cloud that makes up the hand every seven seconds.

Created by a pulsar wind nebula, the hand formation that the pulsar creates is a mystery scientists are still trying to solve. If our Earth were too close to a pulsar like this, and in the direct path of its gamma ray and X-ray jet, all life on Earth (except extremophiles in caves and near volcanic oceanic vents) would likely go extinct.

Pulsars like the one creating the Hand of God nebula are actually rapidly rotating neutron stars, which emit pulses of intense radio waves and electromagnetic radiation. It has been suggested that objects like these, which emit gamma ray radiation, if pointed directly at the Earth, could cause a mass extinction event.

3. The Boomerang Nebula

From within the hourglass nebula, you freeze almost instantly, drifting through space on a collision course with a dying star.

A proto-planetary nebula created by a dying red giant star 5,000 light years from Earth. It’s the coldest object in the known universe. The boomerang nebula’s average temperature is a minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1-degree Kelvin). For reference, the coldest place on Earth (located in Antarctica) registers minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)–located in the Atacama desert in northern Chile–suggest that the extremely low temperatures may be caused by the collision of a small companion star, plunging into the dying red giant’s surface. The rapid expansion of gas caused by the collision is likely what’s causing the extreme decrease in temperature.

2. RXJ1347

Assuming you had a ship that could get you to this galaxy cluster, it would likely melt within seconds of entering the hottest place in the known universe.

gas cloud surrounding a galaxy cluster in the constellation Virgo is the hottest place in the known universe. It’s thought that this massive celestial heat storm was produced by two galaxy clusters colliding, creating one of the most violent phenomena in the universe. Contained within a 450,000 light year wide area, the cloud shines like a spot light. What’s more terrifying is that the custer is swimming with X-rays.

Now imagine if Earth was contained in that cluster. How long do you think our planet would last?

1. Boötes Void (The Great Nothing)

Imagine that you’re falling through space. You try to orient yourself, but every which way you turn, all you see is darkness. Up is down, is right, is left. No matter where you look, there are no stars, no planets, nothing but pitch-black nothingness to inform your senses. Imagine now, that this is all you’ve ever know, from the dawn of your existence.

A true abyss from which nightmares are spawned.

Boötes Void is the largest void in the known universe. It’s nearly 330 million light-years in diameter, and its existence is somewhat baffling. Most of the universe appears to be sponge like, expanding uniformly, but the presence of such a void, where thousands of galaxies could (or should) easily fit, raises many questions about the origins of the universe.

Answers, such as TYPE 4 or 5 alien civilizations, capable of harnessing the light and energy of their galaxies, to dark energy or other phenomena, have been proposed as potential explanations for Boötes Void. Some even think that it may be the very epicenter of the Big Bang, and others think that its very existence refutes the big bang as a whole.

The fact stands, that Boötes Void is the largest thing ever discovered within the known universe. If the Earth were to be placed at its center, we wouldn’t have known that there were even other galaxies until the 1960s.


Great Mischief in the Great Expanse

– WIF Space

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 51

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 51

…“If we had no moon at all, chances are Earth would be just another rock circling the sun…

“What does our moon have to do with the creation story?” asks Constance.

Martin has descended into professor mode, eager to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of an inquiring mind. “That is where the single most fundamental law of cosmic physics comes into play; gravity is what makes the world, or universe, go ‘round. How Earth orbits the sun, how the solar system navigates through the Milky Way and finally how all the other galaxies keep their distance from each other; gravity is what determines these things.

“Our Moon serves as an anchor for this ship. If you it were to suddenly drift away now, after having been here for the entire time, planet Earth would descend into geological upheaval. The continental plates would be scrambled into an unrecognizable mess and volcanism would rule the day.

“If we had no moon at all, chances are Earth would be just another rock circling the sun, an ordinary orb arbitrarily wobbling from year to year; without life, without singularity.”

“My cousin Jimmy (cousin #4) says that the moon is the Earth’s dartboard, attracting Eddie's Cousins-001all those meteors and crap.” Eddie cannot help but inject his own brand of knowledge. “Just look at it; a good pair of binocs show all those craters.”

“I’d love to meet that Jimmy whom you refer to often.”

“He lives over in Berwyn; I can take you there sometime.”

“That’s quite alright, Eddie, I was being facetious. Anyhow, Earth has as many or more craters being the larger target; it’s just that it heals itself, just like our skin recovers from a scratch.

“That all aside, the bottom line is, believing that all these factors have fallen into place by accident… frankly is folly. There are an increasing number of us in science who subscribe to intelligent design over evolution.

“Will Libby is one of those who have not swallowed that pill.” Martin is still fearful of what kind of Willard Libby they are retrieving; wondering what manner of cruel pill takes away one’s memory.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 48

 

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 50

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 50

…Martin Kamen puts forth some remarkable correlations between science and Earth’s placement in the Solar System…

On the way out to Elgin, a sixty mile drive not including one or two wrong turns by the pavement pilot of their Packard, Constance picks Martin’s brain about all things astronomical, as it applies or doesn’t to creation. This whole divine creation thing has jump-started her curiosity gene.

Being a biochemist by trade does not disqualify Martin from entering into solar system-ly speculation. Point in fact; the absence of his carbon-based colleague has left a void of such scholarly conjecture.

After some guarded thought, away from Eddie’s ramblings about his cousins’ mundane exploits or Fanny’s incessant worries about where they should or should they should have turned at the last intersection, Kamen puts forth some remarkable correlations between science and the unlikely randomness of Earth’s placement herein the place we call the Solar System. “Like many scientists, I would normally conclude that Earth’s deployment is just a convenient coincidence, as opposed to intentional.

“There are three critical factors that contribute mightily to the fragile factors that have allowed for the existence of life as we know it:

  1. Earth’s distance from the sun
  2. Earth’s degree of axis tilt
  3. Earth’s moon

“For example, if Earth is 10,000 miles farther from the sun, the climate would not be conducive to the development of intelligent life; it would be intolerably cold. If it is placed that same distance closer than it is currently, only the hardiest of desert creatures would have had the chance to thrive. 30˚ oceans are a tough swim for sea creatures, in the same way 100˚ water will evaporate faster than it can be replenished.

“Secondly, if Earth rotated at a zero degree tilt on its axis, the four seasons we have come to treasure would cease, thereby creating distinct latitudinal zones, ranging from an attractive equator climes, to incrementally less desirable 100 mile regions all the way to the poles.  The mediating ocean currents would be nonexistent and prevailing winds would never waiver north to south.”

Constance never considered herself the scholarly type, rather taking advantage of her cheerleader body and accordingly matching looks, one of the reasons her and Fanny “work”, with her friend possessing a combination of disguised intelligence and child-like innocence.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 47

The NULL Solution = Episode 193

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The NULL Solution = Episode 193

…Like a doting parent,      observes nurtures and guides…

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

They Call Me Lorgan

There is chaos in disorder. Chaos breeds contempt. Contempt leads to conflict. Conflict destroys order. Order is good. Our purpose is to restore order. – The Mission Statement of ⃝   .

Stardate 11 billion B.C.E.

Right after the dawn of creation, there came an enforcer, the purpose of which was to maintain a reasonable structure for life that may form out of the molecular ingredients that will be spreading to infinity.

As eon-after-eon passes, life from nonlife comes to be, the complexity of which increases steadily. As the stars gather in galactic groups of millions, masses of debris coagulate and coalesce. These planets orbit each according to gravitational serendipity.

     oversees the Great Expanse, vigilant to its assigned task of order out of chaos, compiling notes along the way. Like a sponge it soaks in every aspect of what it means to be alive. From the infinitesimal to the intellectual,      sees all, thereby knows about all. It will be called the Library of Life.

Like a doting parent, ⃝     observes nurtures and guides. True to its directive,      tracks the progress of every single hotspot pocket of burgeoning civilization. Indiscriminately placed and varied in progress, such distances between these is a natural barrier to interaction. Each believes they are alone among the many stars.

Intelligent life develops ways to communicate. Ideas are molded and recorded. Records are compiled.      categorizes and takes in every shred. It is the task      is assigned.

Still more eons come and go. Interaction on individual worlds increases. Rules are made. Populations grow. Technologies advance at varying rates. Levels of communication rise. The thirst for knowledge is insatiable.

     is witness to it all. We do not interfere with the natural progression of life.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 193


page 188

The NULL Solution = Episode 177

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The NULL Solution = Episode 177

…This appears to be a starfield for feckless foreigners, having all the feel of a jail…

“We will return to Sexta A and reassess our strategic position.”

It is not easy turning around a mobile planetoid {just ask any self-respecting comet}, especially when you cannot find your way. If it is possible, Collapsar’s trail has turned ice cold.

“We appear to be in a singular galaxy. Sexta A or any other galaxies, known or otherwise, have ceased to exist.”

Related imageŽupzïð would issue an order if he had a clue. “You have been in this place for a long period of time. Is there anything that you do recognize?”

O is here, but it looks different.” A shiny black version of Lorgan has been lurking all along. When you peer at this version, the only things you see are the trillions of stars “There is evidence that other worlds have been wandering within these boundaries.”

This appears to be a starfield for feckless foreigners. It has the feel of a jail. Prison planets are scattered all over the “regular” universe, so the concept of confinement is far from foreign.

“The Great Expanse has no boundaries.”

“This one does. There are no stars at the end. ⃝    will not allow us to go no further.”

I am the how & why that blocks your way

Prove your worthiness and the light will show the way back

“Another stupid riddle,” apparently the Ÿ€Ð do not have aptitude or the appetite for them. “Keep a lookout for that ridiculous rotating beam from the Terran system. That will steer us in the right direction.”

What about the riddle, pilgrim?

Lights out this way are few and there is little detectable heat generated by what stars there are. It is like they have been hung in the sky, held in place by invisible strings. Harmonia’s lighthouse is nowhere to be seen.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 177


page 173

The NULL Solution = Episode 149

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The NULL Solution = Episode 149

…Have you talked to Deke about this, he is the expert on extragalactic relations you know…

Skaldic the Null is no longer considered a black sheep in these parts, even less so, now that her brother’s mate/wife has managed to integrate an entire world. ‘It works for Deke. Why not me? I think he likes me. He is so much like my father; bold not overbearing, adventurous not reckless, smart not smarmy and not too hard on the eyes either.’  She is comparing notes from the experiences related to her by Mamma Celeste, recounting the circumstances that created the person Deimostra is today – the original Earth-child-of-space.

Of course she has that “talk” with her mother. “In case you don’t remember the story, I met your father back at the Space Academy. I always thought he was a bit arrogant, one of those hotshot pilots who think they are the bulletproof. So here I am, space-sick to the max, in a lift-off simulator and this joker is pretending to be a doctor of all things. He takes me to the infirmary… very convincing, but I knew who he really was. He was just trying to get to know me at the time but that didn’t matter. I could never get that guy out of my mind.

“To snip what is a much longer story, when the Space Colony 1 project was being staffed, we got to spend more time together and not long after that we were married. As it

World Space Consortium

turned out the Space Colony Global Coalition or World Space Consortium or INDEPENDENT FOUNDATION FOR THE OCCUPATION OF SPACE or whatever they call it now, was looking for a married couple to go to Mars… and you know the rest of the story.”

“Yeah you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and here I am!”

“I was marooned, pregnant and hijacked, not necessarily in that order. How’s that for a merry 2030?” Celeste can tell her daughter is serious about a “boy”. “Does Skaldic know… Related imageit is Skaldic right… does he know that you have the hots for him?”

“Mother!”

“Well you wouldn’t be grilling me about the love of my life unless you were having similar notions. Have you talked to Deke about this? He is the expert on extragalactic relations you know.”

“He still considers me his kid sister. I am not going to ask him if he knows anything about Skaldic’s physiology.”

“He and Cerella figured it out, honey. I suggest that you let nature run its course; Que sera, sera.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 149


page 147

The NULL Solution = Episode 124

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The NULL Solution = Episode 124

…Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be…

“Let’s blow this juke joint!”

Rick understands the unusual Texan dialect used by his cohort. He also supports the sentiment by plying his skill to raising them up and out, “We will be taking leave of Mars’ gravitation in 2.5 minutes.”

“I think I’m going to tap into that NY Times Bestseller collection I brought along,” Gus proclaims. “Two books a week. I bet I can knock off 20 books before we get back.”

2 minutes later, it turns out Gus will be able to read a library’s worth of fiction. The Martian Mule comes to full stop, stranded on the threshold of space, like an ornament on a Christmas tree, sans a string or explainable cause.

Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be.

“Step on it Rick, what’s the deal?”

“If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the Harmonia shield has now extended planet-wide.”

Roy Crippen and Fletcher Fitch, who have been on pins & needles, are currently faced with the ultimate conundrum.  Every single monitor at Galveston Launch reads the same bothersome image:

“I regret to inform you that the “Harmonia Query” is hereby & now a swinging door, boys.”

“We were afraid of that Crip. Shit and two equals eight!”

“No, 2 plus 1 equals 6. I know it’s a pain, but until we can solve the riddle, you have no choice but continue cataloguing the Mars environment.”

Fitch has estimated that they have enough food for a year. It appears that H2O will not be an issue, “The good news is that you can shut down the urine re-processor.”

“I suggest you work on that ^%@#&*g quiz as well. Maybe you can see some mathematical association we haven’t. It seems Watson III cannot get past the arithmetic.”

“I can’t get past the fact that we fell into some sort of trap!”

“We’re all in this together. We all made the same mistake.”

“But y’all aren’t castaways.”

“Tom Hanks made it back, so will you.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 124


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