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Sehlat Vie

What exactly defines a star system in ST’s universe?

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I was inspired to open this thread by a conversation I was having (and enjoying) with Rusty 0918 in the “Last ST Watched” thread.   I realized I was pulling it waaaay too far off-topic, but it was too fascinating to end there.  

The topic started with Rusty’s inquiry about the Bynar’s star system in the TNG S1 episode, “10101100”; if a star in the Bynar’s home system went supernova, how was their planet spared?   This is a very good question.

Personally, I think the “10101100” ‘supernova’ was most likely a writer’s goof that accidentally substituted ‘supernova’ in place of the more accurate ‘extreme solar event’, but oh well... let’s assume they meant to say supernova.  What then?

The Bynars were very specific in two details; the star was a star within the Bynar system; not the star.   Which suggests automatically that the Bynar system is a multiple star system (binary, or trinary star systems are actually quite common throughout our universe; our neighboring system of Alpha Centauri is, in fact, trinary; Centauri A, Centauri B and Proxima Centuari, the smallest and closest to us).   

And, as unlikely as it seems, there are ways a star within a multiple system could go supernova (well, not quite super; but nova at least) and leave a planet relatively intact, but circumstances would have to be VERY exact.  The star would have to most likely be a brown, cool dwarf star (which would probably lack the mass to go supernova anyway, but...maybe it was aliens, who knows?) somewhere in the outer periphery of the system; maybe in that system’s equivalent of our own cometary Oort cloud (?).

Or maybe it was a tiny cool 'rogue’ star with no planets that was juuuuust outside the boundary of the main Bynar system but is ‘claimed’ by Bynar; much as  the US Virgin Islands are protectorates of the United States, but not actual states.

Thing is, we also don’t have exacting parameters for what constitutes a multiple star system; just as we no longer have exacting criteria for what makes up a planet (the Pluto-Kuiper Belt Object controversy threw all of that out of the window).    

How close does a star have to be to be part of a ‘system’?   Is it a matter of physical proximity or gravitational influence?  Because a star can be very far away but still have some influence within a neighboring system.

 

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Astronomers have found binary stars that in orbit a light year apart in the real world. 

You could have a system with two stars. The main star in the system is a the smallest size star that can go supernova. The second star is a very small star and it's just barely gravitationally locked to its companion star which is 2 light years away. The Binars planet is actually a moon of a large super Jupiter. It orbits the super Jupiter closely enough that the planet is inside the super Jupiter's magnetic field, but the planet's own unusually strong magnetic field protects the planet from the super Jupiter's magnetic field. The super Jupiter orbits very closely to its star. It would be inside the orbit of Mercury if it were in our system.

Now the most dangerous part of a supernova takes around 100 seconds. There are aftershocks but they are much less powerful than the initial explosion. 

So at the time that the supernova happens the Binars star is directly between the Binars planet and the exploding star. By chance, the super Jupiter is also between the Binars planet and the explosion. The initial explosions effects are minimized because both the star and super jupiter are physically protecting the Binar's planet. There are also three magnetic fields deflecting particles, the sun's fairly weak field and the super jupiter and Binar's planet's strong magnetic fields. Since the explosions effects travel by light speed, they have two years warning to harden all their electronics. 

Technically the Binars live on a moon not a planet but I doubt that this distinction would be made in ordinary conversation. 

 

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27 minutes ago, scenario said:

Technically the Binars live on a moon not a planet but I doubt that this distinction would be made in ordinary conversation. 

Whether it’s a moon to us or not, it’s still a world to the Bynars/Binars (sp?).

At any rate, that’s another good point; if the Bynar home world were a satellite of a much larger planet with a stronger magnetic field protecting it, the effects of a post-nova star a light year outside the main planets would be somewhat negated.   But any planet orbiting a Jupiter-like planet (with its enormous & deadly magnetic field) would be fried like an egg on a skillet by lethal radiation.    Unless...it lived under ice (as theoretical life forms on Europa might’ve evolved).   Water-ice is a near-perfect barrier to intense radiation.   It’s one of the reasons that reusable/recycled water stored and circulated within the walls of a manned Mars mission spacecraft would be near-ideal radiation shielding as well.

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42 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

Whether it’s a moon to us or not, it’s still a world to the Bynars/Binars (sp?).

At any rate, that’s another good point; if the Bynar home world were a satellite of a much larger planet with a stronger magnetic field protecting it, the effects of a post-nova star a light year outside the main planets would be somewhat negated.   But any planet orbiting a Jupiter-like planet (with its enormous & deadly magnetic field) would be fried like an egg on a skillet by lethal radiation.    Unless...it lived under ice (as theoretical life forms on Europa might’ve evolved).   Water-ice is a near-perfect barrier to intense radiation.   It’s one of the reasons that reusable/recycled water stored and circulated within the walls of a manned Mars mission spacecraft would be near-ideal radiation shielding as well.

Maybe the Binars world started out in very distant orbit. The Binars had a very advanced civilization and a thousand years warning, moved their planet closer.

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6 hours ago, scenario said:

Maybe the Binars world started out in very distant orbit. The Binars had a very advanced civilization and a thousand years warning, moved their planet closer.

I don’t know; if they needed a mobile starship computer to upload their main computer’s database, it seems unlikely (though not impossible, granted) that they’ve mastered planetary/stellar engineering.   Maybe they once had spaceflight and even planetary/stellar engineering earlier in their evolution, but maybe those skillsets have atrophied (?).

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9 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

I don’t know; if they needed a mobile starship computer to upload their main computer’s database, it seems unlikely (though not impossible, granted) that they’ve mastered planetary/stellar engineering.   Maybe they once had spaceflight and even planetary/stellar engineering earlier in their evolution, but maybe those skillsets have atrophied (?).

Yeah that's a longshot. But what if the Super Jupiter had a very weak magnetic field but the Binars own planet had a strong magnetic field. The mass of the star and the super Jupiter by good luck were perfectly placed to block the initial radiation burst from the Supernova. And because of the speed of the Binars planets orbit, it remained in the Super Jupiter's shadow for  several weeks. The planet's electric field protected the life on the planet, up to a point. But electronics are more vulnerable to electric pulses than life is. So the main computer was damaged while the people survived. 

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7 hours ago, scenario said:

Maybe the Binars world started out in very distant orbit. The Binars had a very advanced civilization and a thousand years warning, moved their planet closer.

I don't think they would have had the know-how to MOVE a planet.

That being said, this is quite insightful with regards to star systems. I still think that a star at close enough range going supernova would do a lot more to Bynas would do more than just knock out their main computer, it would do other things as well.

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1 hour ago, Rusty0918 said:

I don't think they would have had the know-how to MOVE a planet.

That being said, this is quite insightful with regards to star systems. I still think that a star at close enough range going supernova would do a lot more to Bynas would do more than just knock out their main computer, it would do other things as well.

I agree if the star were within say, the bounds of where Neptune is within our own solar system, yes.  But if this other star within their system were a dwarf star and maybe a good light year away?  It's possible the planet could survive relatively intact.  It'd take over a year for the full effects to reach them anyway, if the star were that far out.

As it is, I don't think the star  was that far away, otherwise the Bynars wouldn't have been in such a hurry, right?  I also cling to my initial feeling that the writers meant to say 'extreme solar event' but wound up mistakenly labeling it a supernova.  An ESE would fit all the criteria of the episode (as far as I could infer, anyway) but it lacks the dramatic punch of the word supernova.

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27 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

I agree if the star were within say, the bounds of where Neptune is within our own solar system, yes.  But if this other star within their system were a dwarf star and maybe a good light year away?  It's possible the planet could survive relatively intact.  It'd take over a year for the full effects to reach them anyway, if the star were that far out.

As it is, I don't think the star  was that far away, otherwise the Bynars wouldn't have been in such a hurry, right?  I also cling to my initial feeling that the writers meant to say 'extreme solar event' but wound up mistakenly labeling it a supernova.  An ESE would fit all the criteria of the episode (as far as I could infer, anyway) but it lacks the dramatic punch of the word supernova.

Or they spent a year or two planning and the plan didn't work as well as hoped or they ran out of time. The attack was a last ditch effort when their plan failed.

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The Beta Magellan system, made up for the episode about the Bynars, and the planet Bynaer, (because everything there is named Bynar for some reason, or a derivitive, could also be two other non canon systems. It is not in the Magellanic cloud, so that is an odd name.

Hypothetically, the supernova could have been a nova, or even a flare up, similar to the type that reignites a white dwarf's fusion. It would more likely be a nova. The pair of stars is a contact binary, (binar...y, see what they did?), and one star is a massive F type or even close of A type star. The planets around a bright white A star would be comfortable at over 4 AU from the star, could be moons of a larger planet. Let's just put it closer though, at 2 AU, twice that of the Earth Sun distance in our solar system. Let's also make it a water ice giant like Neptune, not a super Jupiter. The ice giant also has a rocky iron nickel core and fluid hydrogen sea mantle. It generates a very strong magnetic field.

Every so often, such as in 2364, the Bynars calculate that the little white dwarf will again flare up, or go nova, as material from their home star has built up. Instead of simply moving off the planet, which they certainly could, they opt to steal the computer tech from their main planetary computer, and store it on what would amount to a primitive and smaller computer. It doesn't really make sense for them to do that. It would be like storing your hard drive's T1 memory on a smart phone. It wouldn't fit.

But it could be a matrioska brain, a computer driven brain inside the planet, and all they had to do was put the boot program on the Enterprise, not the whole thing, to restart it.

They are clearly warp capable, but suppose they had to extend all their energy into shielding the planet, in addition to the present field, to stop the nova's effects.

This does beg the question about the Romulan nova also. They have interstellar fleets. Can't they just leave? Also they have super tech. Can't they stop the explosion? Can't the Bynars? For plot convenience, often they just say, oh well in this episode we can't stop a star from exploding, but we also can't reboot our own mega computer, and for some reason need your help?

"You might have...said no." The Bynars.

"You do have a gift for understatement!" Riker about the girl in the red dress.

Actually we have seen this nova star story in TNG again, in the episode "Evolution" where that scientist Stubbs is studying the century bursting nova of a binary star pair. (In that case a red giant and a neutron star). A system like that would not have natural inhabited planets.

 

Edited by Chimera82405

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4 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

This does beg the question about the Romulan nova also. They have interstellar fleets. Can't they just leave?

The nova near Romulus (technically it wasn’t IN the Romulan star system, but close by) went nova prematurely; so I’m assuming they thought they had more time.   Arrogance = lack of preparation.

4 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

Also they (the Romulans) have super tech. Can't they stop the explosion?

They didn’t have stellar engineering tech, that was the whole point of their asking Vulcans for help.  

 

4 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

They are clearly warp capable, but suppose they had to extend all their energy into shielding the planet, in addition to the present field, to stop the nova's effects.

Who says the Binars are warp-capable?   Just because they can fix warp ships doesn’t mean they have their own fleets.   A mechanic can work on a client’s Mercedes, and then catch the bus home from work...;)

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21 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

The nova near Romulus (technically it wasn’t IN the Romulan star system, but close by) went nova prematurely; so I’m assuming they thought they had more time.   Arrogance = lack of preparation.

They didn’t have stellar engineering tech, that was the whole point of their asking Vulcans for help.  

 

Who says the Binars are warp-capable?   Just because they can fix warp ships doesn’t mean they have their own fleets.   A mechanic can work on a client’s Mercedes, and then catch the bus home from work...;)

They had to be warp capable. If they were more primitive than the Prime Directive applies. Non interference. They would be left alone. Still using 1987 logic, binary computers were the in thing, and making a hard reboot of a planetary computer, also very advanced for the time. But maybe all their resources were going into shielding them from the nova.

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1 minute ago, Chimera82405 said:

They had to be warp capable. If they were more primitive than the Prime Directive applies. Non interference. They would be left alone. Still using 1987 logic, binary computers were the in thing, and making a hard reboot of a planetary computer, also very advanced for the time. But maybe all their resources were going into shielding them from the nova.

They may have been capable of warp drive (re-read my last sentence)...

2 minutes ago, Chimera82405 said:

Just because they can fix warp ships doesn’t mean they have their own fleets.   A mechanic can work on a client’s Mercedes, and then catch the bus home from work...

...but that doesn’t mean they had warp ships.

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They're still using binary, on an alien planet, maybe they don't really have as much high tech as they claim. They did have to use the Enterprise D computer. They have a bit of a disconnect. If they are more primitive than the fleet, why are they considered Federation members? The only way that might work is they are in fact a colony. If they are, then the Bynar home world should also come and help. But there is nothing in the episode to indicate they are just 'altered humans using binary code on an alien planet, names binaries, er bynars, from binary, er binarus, in orbit of a by-nary star).

Edited by Chimera82405

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3 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

They're still using binary, on an alien planet, maybe they don't really have as much high tech as they claim.

All digital tech is, at its core, still binary as well; 1s and 0s.  That’s unlikely to change in the immediate future.  It’s still a very efficient way to convey information.   It’s also universal; positive and negative values.  Whatever the characters used to represent those values, they’d be a constant to intelligent life with knowledge of mathematics and computing technology. 

3 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

If they are more primitive than the fleet, why are they considered Federation members?

I don’t recall it being said in dialogue that they’re Federation members; if that were true, then their request for assistance would have virtually NO risk of being turned down.  

And it wouldn’t be the first time non-members worked with Starfleet.  In fact, we’ve seen many non-Federation members serve Starfleet; Nog (Ferengi), Worf (Klingon), Bajorans, etc.   The Binars could simply be non-aligned contractors for Starfleet (a policy that might need revising after the events of 101011100).

4 hours ago, Chimera82405 said:

If they are, then the Bynar home world should also come and help.

As I’ve said (repeatedly); maybe they’re no longer a spacefaring race, or maybe (as stated) they didn’t have a mobile computer large enough for that purpose.   My guess is that they’ll probably want one built ASAP...

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On 9/27/2017 at 2:46 PM, Chimera82405 said:

The Beta Magellan system, made up for the episode about the Bynars, and the planet Bynaer, (because everything there is named Bynar for some reason, or a derivitive, could also be two other non canon systems. It is not in the Magellanic cloud, so that is an odd name.

Hypothetically, the supernova could have been a nova, or even a flare up, similar to the type that reignites a white dwarf's fusion. It would more likely be a nova. The pair of stars is a contact binary, (binar...y, see what they did?), and one star is a massive F type or even close of A type star. The planets around a bright white A star would be comfortable at over 4 AU from the star, could be moons of a larger planet. Let's just put it closer though, at 2 AU, twice that of the Earth Sun distance in our solar system. Let's also make it a water ice giant like Neptune, not a super Jupiter. The ice giant also has a rocky iron nickel core and fluid hydrogen sea mantle. It generates a very strong magnetic field.

Every so often, such as in 2364, the Bynars calculate that the little white dwarf will again flare up, or go nova, as material from their home star has built up. Instead of simply moving off the planet, which they certainly could, they opt to steal the computer tech from their main planetary computer, and store it on what would amount to a primitive and smaller computer. It doesn't really make sense for them to do that. It would be like storing your hard drive's T1 memory on a smart phone. It wouldn't fit.

But it could be a matrioska brain, a computer driven brain inside the planet, and all they had to do was put the boot program on the Enterprise, not the whole thing, to restart it.

They are clearly warp capable, but suppose they had to extend all their energy into shielding the planet, in addition to the present field, to stop the nova's effects.

This does beg the question about the Romulan nova also. They have interstellar fleets. Can't they just leave? Also they have super tech. Can't they stop the explosion? Can't the Bynars? For plot convenience, often they just say, oh well in this episode we can't stop a star from exploding, but we also can't reboot our own mega computer, and for some reason need your help?

"You might have...said no." The Bynars.

"You do have a gift for understatement!" Riker about the girl in the red dress.

Actually we have seen this nova star story in TNG again, in the episode "Evolution" where that scientist Stubbs is studying the century bursting nova of a binary star pair. (In that case a red giant and a neutron star). A system like that would not have natural inhabited planets.

 

Ok, variation on yours. The Devil in the Dark scenario. The Binars know when a nova will occur and take precautions. It's been going on for many years. They put the main computer on safe mode which allows enough to keep them alive but not much more. They need another much smaller computer to reboot the main computer. They have 5 much smaller reboot computers, 1 and 4 spares. It's a routine. "Next monday, at 6pm, everyone must be at home or at another appropriate location for a flare shutdown."  At 6:05, they give a warning and start an organized shut down. All but a few binars go to sleep. Flare hits. No damage. Reboot and by 10:00, every ones awake. 

But the star flares unexpectedly at the worst possible time. The main computer crashes and all other computers on the planet including the reboot computers are used to keep the people alive but they're failing. There are only a handful of binars still awake. They have the reboot program but they need a powerful computer to run it. The awake Binars are just ordinary technicians. They're not politicians. They haven't dealt with aliens all that much. Since they are the only ones awake, they're authorized by the remaining computer systems to call themselves whatever they want. They call the Enterprise with all the appropriate codes. They get on the ship and determine that its computer may be powerful enough to act as a reboot device. But with the survival of their entire species at stake, they're not going to take a chance. 

 

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