Hard Science Fiction by Brandon Q. Morris
Six exoplanets in unusual resonance Astrophysics

Six exoplanets in unusual resonance

If one leaves multi-body systems to themselves, sometimes a strange order appears. The distances of the planetary orbits are integer multiples of a basic value, moons and planets move in unison, celestial bodies always turn to the same side - what we then perceive as cosmic order are all no miracles, but merely results of the effect of gravity in a system built up in a certain way. This is also true of TOI-178, a star about 200 light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. When researchers first observed the star, they initially suspected they had discovered two planets orbiting…
How deep is Titan’s largest lake? Space

How deep is Titan’s largest lake?

Saturn's moon Titan is one of the most mysterious celestial bodies in the solar system. Beneath the golden haze of gaseous nitrogen in which it is enveloped, it has a weather cycle comparable to Earth's - only not with water, but with liquid methane. The methane comes down from the sky as rain, flows down the mountains in rivers, forms lakes and oceans, and evaporates from them back into the atmosphere. In a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, researchers now use data from one of the Cassini mission's last Titan flybys to show how deep Titan's…
In search of the axion, a hypothetical elementary particle Astrophysics

In search of the axion, a hypothetical elementary particle

For some time now, physicists have been thinking about an elementary particle that has very little mass, no electric charge and no spin (quantum angular momentum). It would interact very little with other particles because of these properties and would therefore be a good candidate for dark matter, which is characterized by just that. But the axion is also used in physics because in the neutron, a neutral nuclear particle, the charge of the quarks of which it is composed is so perfectly distributed that it is not at all apparent to the outside world that there are balancing…
Premature birth? The most distant quasar raises questions Astrophysics

Premature birth? The most distant quasar raises questions

Astronomers have discovered the most distant quasar yet. The monstrous celestial object called J0313-1806, which existed 670 million years after the Big Bang, shines thousands of times brighter than the Milky Way and is powered by another extreme, the earliest supermassive black hole, more than 1.6 billion times the mass of the Sun. This fully formed distant quasar with a redshift of z = 7.64, formed more than 13 billion years ago, is also the earliest quasar discovered to date, giving astronomers a glimpse of how massive galaxies formed in the early universe. Quasars, powered by the feeding orgies…
I welcome our future rulers, the Artificial Superintelligences Astrophysics

I welcome our future rulers, the Artificial Superintelligences

An artificial intelligence that is smarter than humans is one of the favorite subjects in science fiction. There are researchers who claim that such an AI is technically impossible. Others believe it is inevitable. If that could be the case, humanity faces a difficult problem. Can we somehow ensure that this superintelligence is benevolent to us? Can we control it? Because if we can't, the survival of humanity would be in its hands alone. A conception, which can please us so little that we would have to do then everything to prevent its emergence. An international team of researchers…
How Earth rocks on the sea of space-time Astrophysics

How Earth rocks on the sea of space-time

A constant radiation in the microwave range, the background radiation, has long told cosmologists that something important happened 380,000 years after the Big Bang. At that time, electrons and protons recombined to form molecular hydrogen, so that space finally became transparent, allowing light to propagate. We can still measure the remnants of this light, shifted into the infrared. But a lot happened shortly after the Big Bang. The very early universe was determined by time-varying scalar fields, after the inflation phase there should have been an energy transfer from inflaton particles to regular matter, there were various phase transitions,…
Luhman-16 B: The striped dwarf Space

Luhman-16 B: The striped dwarf

Luhman-16 B is a brown dwarf - a star that was a little too small to actually become a star and ignite hydrogen fusion in its interior. Brown dwarfs are about the size of Jupiter, but typically dozens of times more massive. Luhman-16 B, along with its brother Luhman-16 A, is the closest to Earth of this type of celestial object. It is also the target of the "Majestic Dracht" in Proxima log 2. Because of their nature - they do not glow - brown dwarfs are quite difficult to observe. Only with the right tricks can researchers find…
Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out Life

Intelligent life in the Milky Way is slowly dying out

Mankind is pretty late and pretty far out. That's the conclusion of a study that statistically examines the development of intelligent life in the Milky Way. In it, the authors look at a whole range of factors that they think influence the evolution of intelligent life, such as the frequency of Sun-like stars hosting Earth-like planets, the frequency of civilization destroying supernovas, the length of time it takes for intelligent life to evolve (if conditions are right), and the tendency of advanced civilizations to self-destruct. The researchers incorporated these factors, with varying values, into a simulation of the Milky…