Weekly Update (Cross-posting)


Howdy all!  Hope everyone had a good week.

This week a NASA article caught my eye concerning the WISE satellite mission to map the entire sky (to read my previous journal entry on WISE go here).  It concerns T and Y type stars - a.k.a Brown Dwarfs- which appear to be far more common than NASA originally thought.

Brown dwarfs are "cold stars", gas giants with 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter that were not able to achieve the necessary mass to ignite and become luminous stars.  Brown dwarfs average between 400-1500 Kelvins in temperature (FYI "Room Temperature" in Kelvins is 293-298, and water boils at 373 degrees Kelvin), which is "ice-cold" for a star.  It is, however, still warm enough to emit infra-red radiation which is how the WISE Satellite can detect these objects.  When they first form out of clouds of collapsing dust and space-debris they have a bit of heat, and some emit a small amount of light, but as they age they cool and grow dark.  This makes them nearly impossible to see with normal telescopes, which is why their existence was not confirmed until 1995.

Astronomers are excited about their existence because brown dwarfs, unlike other gas giants, form alone in space.  They present an opportunity to study early star formation and gas giant formation in isolation from other massive stellar objects like luminous stars.  You can read the NASA article here.

Some known brown dwarfs exhibit characteristics of having their own planetary systems as well.  I wonder what we may some day find on such worlds.

And now, a little bit about writing...

As I work on my sci-fi book I am, of course, trying to keep a finger on the pulse of popularity in speculative fiction.  Going into any Barnes & Noble or other book seller and I'm sure you'll notice the abundance of urban fantasy and, more recently, steam-punk novels crowding the shelves.  I have to admit that the trend in the genre towards the endless variation of vampire-werewolf (and to a lesser degree, zombie) drama has gone on a lot longer than I would have expected.  I'm starting to think this particular sub-set of the genre might be on its way to becoming a staple of the category in the fashion of high-fantasy and hard sci-fi.  I have mixed feelings on the issue, as urban fantasy can be enjoyable for me but is not my favorite by far.

I'm curious about what you think about urban fantasy, steam-punk, and the like.  What gives these categories their appeal and longevity?  What's your opinion?

Looking forward to your comments!

Be well all!


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