Tuesday, 16 January 2018

rogue one

As Phil Plait extols the fact that rogue—or rather free-floating—planets ejected from their metropolitan stars (previously) have moved rather quickly from the realm of the theoretical and stuff of science-fiction to confirmed entities, most likely numerous, is cause for humanity to step back and not only bask a bit in our accomplishments but also reconfigures our perspective.
Space is still surely vast and there’s great emptinesses between our stellar buoys but what if nomadic worlds outnumber the stars. Given the bounty of exoplanets that we know to be out there, it stands to reason that we will encounter civilisations through archæology and artefacts, but it does give one pause to imagine that our first contact—so to speak—is with the ghostly and haunted. It isn’t a forgone conclusion that a wandering planet would necessarily be a sterile fossil, however, since astronomers have also found that in at least one instance (and on cosmological scales, it seems to be the exception that proves the rule) that a planet can retain its satellites and a moon—of sufficient size—could be a source of energy via tidal force heating.