Hard Science Fiction by Brandon Q. Morris
Lonely wanderers not uncommon Space

Lonely wanderers not uncommon

In my upcoming novel "Andromeda: The Encounter," an Earth-sized planet is wandering lonely through space. Planets far from any star - how common are they? Apparently, this is not an uncommon phenomenon. Star systems can become dynamically unstable and eject single planets. This could have happened to our solar system in early times. That it is a normal sight is also shown by a research work of British scientists. They have discovered evidence of a mysterious population of such free-floating planets. The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The study, led by Iain…
New signs of life from Enceladus Enceladus

New signs of life from Enceladus

In the geysers at Enceladus' south pole, the hypothetical probe "Enceladus Life Finder" detects clear signs of life in my book "The Enceladus Mission" - whereupon a crewed spacecraft, the ILSE, is sent to Saturn's moon. But it all really starts with Cassini, the NASA-ESA mission that found a relatively high concentration of certain molecules associated with hydrothermal vents at the bottom of Earth's oceans, specifically hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, just there. The amount of methane found in the vapor plumes was particularly unexpected. "We wanted to know: Could Earth-like microbes that 'eat' the hydrogen and produce methane…
Atomic nucleus swallows electrons: New supernova type found Astrophysics

Atomic nucleus swallows electrons: New supernova type found

At the end of its life, stars, if they are only heavy enough, perish in a gigantic firework, a supernova. Up to now, one knew roughly two ways to get there. A core-collapse supernova occurs when a massive star - one with more than 10 times the mass of the Sun - runs out of nuclear fuel and its iron core collapses, creating a black hole or neutron star. On the other hand, if a white dwarf - a low-mass star at the end of its lifetime - captures so much mass from a companion that it becomes unstable,…
Tectonic movements on Venus Space

Tectonic movements on Venus

Three missions will soon be visiting Venus. What is there to see there? Well, for example, something like tectonics, movements in the planet's crust. Mars and Earth's moon don't have anything like that. But Venus does, as a paper now states. "We have identified a previously unrecognized pattern of tectonic deformation on Venus that is driven by internal motions just as it is on Earth," says Paul Byrne, associate professor of planetary science at North Carolina State University and lead and co-lead author of the paper. "Although it's different from the tectonics we currently see on Earth, it's still evidence…
The birth of supermassive black holes from dark matter – and their growth Astrophysics

The birth of supermassive black holes from dark matter – and their growth

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old. In the beginning, there were no stars in it. But 600 to 800 million years later already mighty galaxies existed with gigantic black holes in their center, which are millions to billions times heavier than our sun. But where did these giants come from? For a long time it was assumed that they could have been formed by the collapse of gas clouds in protogalaxies. But the result is unsatisfactory. In this way, the black holes simply don't grow fast enough. A team led by a theoretical physicist at the University…
Mysterious shadow hides giant star Space

Mysterious shadow hides giant star

VVV-WIT-08 is a red giant star with 100 solar masses and 25,000 light years away from us. Ten years ago (25,010 years ago, of course) its brightness suddenly decreased drastically - down to one-thirtieth of its original value. There are indeed variable stars. In certain phases of life many types of stars show spontaneous changes. However, such a large decrease as in VVV-WIT-08 is rare. It speaks for the fact that the cause was not in the star itself, but in its environment. Did another object move in front of the star for a few hundred days and darken…
Surprising candidates for extraterrestrial life Life

Surprising candidates for extraterrestrial life

When astronomers look for places outside Earth where life might exist, they often first check the habitable zone of star systems. After all, the Milky Way alone is home to 100 to 400 billion stars and at least that many planets. Habitable means that water should exist there in liquid form. Water, as far as we know, is the elixir of life. It has made life on Earth possible and is essential for the continuation of all living systems on the planet. This explains why scientists are constantly searching for evidence of water on other solid bodies in the…
Brandon Q. Morris on the Internet and in social media Book

Brandon Q. Morris on the Internet and in social media

When I published my first book years ago, the plan was clear: there would also be a website for the book, plus maybe a newsletter, and a Facebook page probably had to be there, too. Well, the world has changed. I prefer to be where my readers are - and that means you can now find me on many other platforms as well. But after all, it would be boring if you read and saw the same thing everywhere. So it's time for a little overview: Where can you find what from Brandon Q. Morris and how often? Website:…