Hard Science Fiction by Brandon Q. Morris
Does a hidden mirror universe influence our world? Astrophysics

Does a hidden mirror universe influence our world?

One of the fundamental parameters of our universe is the Hubble constant H0. It indicates the speed with which distant objects move away from us and thus determines the fate of the entire universe. Today we know that it is not a constant in the strict sense, since H0 changes with time. However, science has a fundamental problem with it. Depending on how it is measured, its value differs. The difference between the measurement methods even grows the more precise the measurements are. If H0 is calculated from the standard model of cosmology (Lambda Cold Dark Matter, ΛCDM), the…
Topology is everywhere Astrophysics

Topology is everywhere

Topology is an important branch of mathematics. It deals with such properties of mathematical forms that are preserved under constant deformation (i.e. without tearing or cutting them). Topology is also the basis of the plot in my upcoming Möbius trilogy. The strange artifact in question is a topological construct. As an author, I am naturally delighted when an international team of researchers has now discovered and published in the journal Science that almost all materials in nature have at least one topological state. This contradicts the forty-year-old assumption that topological materials are rare and esoteric. "Topology is everywhere" is…
Black hole winds are no longer what they used to be Astrophysics

Black hole winds are no longer what they used to be

In the early times of the universe, black holes in the centers of active galaxies grew much faster than today. Only in this way it can be explained that 500 to thousand million years after the big bang there were already such huge black holes. Today, however, things look different - the black holes at the centers are evolving in parallel with their host galaxies. When and why did this change occur? That's what a study led by three researchers from Italy's National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Trieste has found, published in the journal Nature. The work is…
A black widow lurks 3000 light years away Space

A black widow lurks 3000 light years away

Astronomers love analogies from the animal kingdom. For a fast rotating neutron star, which feeds on its life partner, they have coined the term "black widow", although neutron stars are of course neither black nor widows. The star from which these pulsars (which otherwise would quickly come to rest on an astronomical scale) draw fresh energy for their rotation is still alive. Normally, such systems - about two dozen are known in the Milky Way alone - are identified by the X-rays and gamma rays that the pulsars emit like celestial lighthouses. However, not every pulsar also radiates in…
More life on younger planets Life

More life on younger planets

Nowadays we know more than 5000 exoplanets. Among them are some that are similar in size to Earth, are also made of rock, and orbit their star in an area that astrobiologists call the habitable zone. Habitable here refers to life as we know it, which is based on water and carbon and therefore also requires liquid water on the surface. Which of these candidates should we look at first, for example with the new James Webb telescope, which will also be able to determine the atmospheric composition of distant worlds? Where are the chances of finding life the…
Greenhouse effect taken to the extreme Space

Greenhouse effect taken to the extreme

Our solar system is relatively unusual with its division into four rocky worlds on the inside and another four gas and ice planets on the outside. What it lacks, for example, is a so-called "Hot Jupiter": a gas giant the size of our Jupiter, which orbits very close to its parent star and thus heats up extremely strongly. Therefore, if you want to learn something about Hot Jupiters, you have to look into the distance. Such a specimen appears in many of the more than 5000 planetary systems catalogued so far. What do these types of planets have in…
Astronomers discover a new type of stellar explosion: micronovae Astrophysics

Astronomers discover a new type of stellar explosion: micronovae

A team of astronomers has observed a new type of stellar explosion - a micronova - using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). These outbursts occur on the surface of certain stars and consume an amount of stellar material equivalent to the mass of 3.5 billion Cheops pyramids in a few hours. In astronomical terms, this is still small - hence the name. Micronovae are much less energetic than the stellar explosions known as novae. Both types of explosions occur on white dwarfs. "Micronovae challenge our understanding of how thermonuclear explosions occur in stars.…
Jupiter’s moon Europa could have water near surface Enceladus

Jupiter’s moon Europa could have water near surface

Jupiter's moon Europa, like Saturn's moon Enceladus, is an important target for the search for extraterrestrial life. That a liquid, salty ocean exists beneath its ice crust seems clear since the visits of Voyager and Galileo. But to explore this body of water, visitors must first drill through at least 20 to 30 kilometers of ice. Or maybe not? At least that's what a new study based on data from the Greenland Ice Sheet, published in Nature Communications, suggests. The results could provide insights into the geophysical processes that led to the formation of Jupiter's moon. Riley Culberg, a…