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Sunday, July 5, 2015

GSE2 - You Sneak Up on Them

I have arrived. As I suspected, I was not the first surveyor to visit this system. Mankind has known of its existence for over a millennium so everyone knows to go to it. However, at over 1000 light years distance, between the Orion Spur and the Sagittarius arm, it isn't the easiest star system to get to. If your ship doesn't have a 20 light year jump range it will be a long trip indeed. Even with a 24 light year jump range it's taken me six weeks to get here. I've spent the last week surveying it.

So now you want to know what system I chose as my intermediate target, and who am I to keep the information from you? Here is the video catalog entry I made of it. 1


I picked HD 167971, also known as HIP 89681, because it has three things I've never seen let alone surveyed. It has a Class O5-8V type giant blue star as its main plasma monster. It also has a neutron star and two black holes: one orbiting the blue giant and the other in a binary relationship with the neutron star. As you can see in the video, there are also five other normal stars of type M and L in the system orbiting HD 167971 A and HD 167971 B - the first black hole. About half of these stellar bodies and remnants have planets, and I did flybys of every one of them. This is a special system so gets special treatment.

[caption id="attachment_5362" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]HD 167971 A - O Type Blue Giant HD 167971 A - O Type Blue Giant[/caption]

HD 167971 A is a humongous main sequence star. It weighs in at more than 30 solar masses. An average surface temperature over 48,000 kelvin and a peak surface temperature of 52,000 kelvin give this plasma monster a beautiful blue color. The color is most evident when viewed from a distance though as optical overload very close in tends to white wash photo receptors.

[caption id="attachment_5363" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]HD 167971 B - Black Hole HD 167971 B - Black Hole[/caption]

HD 167971 B is the first black hole. It orbits close to HD 167871 A at about 100 light seconds. So here's the thing about black holes. You have to sneak up on them. These are standard singularities, very small and very cold, not the gargantuan Sagittarius A super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. They do gravitationally lens the star field behind them, but the human eye is too insensitive to detect the lensing in anything but the densest star fields. And for the surface scanner to activate, you must be within five light seconds of the singularity. But don't be too concerned. As these are cold bodies you can get quite close. And as they are stellar mass black holes, they are very small and your ship will drop you out of super cruise before you cross the event horizon.

[caption id="attachment_5364" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]HD 167971 C - Black Hole HD 167971 C - Black Hole[/caption]

The second black hole is HD 167971 C which is a bit over 235,000 light seconds from HD 167971 AB, depending from where you start. As with HD 167971 B, it is small and cold with intense gravitational lensing but otherwise not all that scary.

[caption id="attachment_5365" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]HD 167971 D - Neutron Star HD 167971 D - Neutron Star[/caption]

This is not the case with a neutron star. If I had to pick one stellar-mass body I was most afraid of, it would be the neutron star. HD 167971 D is only the size of a mountain, but it exerts the gravitational pull of a massive main sequence star - a star like HD 167971 A. Though most of the stellar mass will be blown off in the nova that creates a neutron star, the resulting mountain sized mass of neutron plasma will be several solar masses. This particular neutron star is just under 2.5 solar masses. But that isn't what is so dangerous about neutron stars. They are hot, extremely hot; way beyond what you'd encounter in a main sequence star. HD 167971 D is 100 times hotter than the blue giant HD 167971 A. Your ship may be able to withstand the gravity of this beast at close range, but it's be a molten globe of metal before you could enjoy the view. Nevertheless, this is all proportional. It is only the size of a mountain. You will still need to get within five light-seconds to scan it, and I got to within 0.21 light-seconds before I got a proximity warning and my hull began to heat up. At 0.17 light-seconds my hull temperature was at 60% of maximum and my warning indicators has begun to flash in alarm. I still couldn't see anything but a point of light at that distance. I turned aside and made my flyby at just under a half light-second because I'm a long way from any space garage, and there is only so much damage my Automated Field-Maintenance unit can handle. The neutron plasma monster was still only a dot no bigger than the background stars.

The remainder of this star system consisted of four more Class M type stars, a Class L type star, six Metal-rich worlds, three high metal content worlds, two gas giants (a Class III and a Class IV,) and eight moons. I have calculated a minimum value for this system at 86,200 credits. The maximum value could be as high as 120,000 credits. You can see all of this system in the 20 minute video catalog entry above, or you can peruse the still images I have pulled out below for your viewing pleasure. And as always, fly careful.

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  1. I actually visited this system last week with all the others I reported on, but have been on a working vacation since. 

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