Hairy Ticks of Dune

There's only room enough in this stillsuit for one of us! ... Wait, come back!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Canopus in Agon: Lessing was more (accurate)?

I remember reading Doris Lessing's The Sirian Experiments not long after it came out in the early 80's, but can't recall reading any of the other books in the series. So I'm not sure how she described the Canopus system, if at all. (Or even if "Canopus in Argos" actually refers to the star Canopus.) Her approach may have better than Frank Herbert's in the long run, because it's starting to look like Canopus is the LAST star he should have chosen to spin Dune around.

Here's the deal: It's not certain whether the Canopus we know could form a planetary system in the first place. The star itself is massive, between 8 and 9 times the mass of Sol. And huge: its radius is 65 times that of Sol. And bright: its luminosity is 14,800 times Sol's.

That last is the most damning, because "bright" means it's giving off a lot of energy. Which means it's WAY hotter than our sun. Which pushes the star's habitable zone much farther out than most system formation simulations are geared to handle.

The other problem with big stars is this: they burn through their "fuel mass" much more quickly. So even if planets do manage to form around one, there's probably not going to be enough time for life to arise before the star goes supernova or fsssthpp.

I'll probably keep playing around with the software, just for something to do, but this isn't looking good at all....


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