(OOC) What Were They Doing?

My investigations into the actions of Sansha Kuvakei’s forces during their daring attack on Yulai continues. I enlisted the aid of Stogmari Carbino (his in-game alias), who IRL works at the LHC, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. His response was as refreshing (so nice to talk to a science geek) as it was perplexing (no, I understood everything he said. It’s just… well read on).

As a particle physicist, I don’t spend much time worrying about gravity. It’s been awhile since my classes on stellar mechanics, but I’ll take a shot. Let’s set the other issues (relativity, wormholes, warp drives) aside and discuss only one issue. If the Sansha had some mechanism to remove mass (“plasma extraction”) from the Yulai star, would that cause it to “blow up”?

I flew to Yulai and clicked “Show Info” on its star. It’s an F7, with a temp of 6.4k Kelvin and a radius of 0.73 solar radii. In other words, its a bit small for the main sequence but still solidly within the expected range, and in particular it is not a white dwarf. Its presence on the main sequence means the Yulai star’s mass is roughly 0.8 solar masses.

Remember, when a star becomes a white dwarf, it sheds much of its mass, leaving a metal-rich core. If the remaining core accretes enough mass to become heavier than the Chandrasakahar limit of ~1.4 solar masses, the quantum-mechanical electron degeneracy pressure can’t hold up the star and it collapses with a supernova. But Yulai isn’t a white dwarf, it’s a main sequence star. If the original star is lighter than the Chankdrasekhar mass, the even-lighter remaining dwarf will be insufficiently massive as well. Taking yet more mass away with “plasma extraction” won’t help. Quickly removing a huge mass from its core will cause the star to collapse, but it is never going to beat electron degeneracy. Yulai is too light for it to ever supernova.

What the Sansha would need to do is somehow shut off fusion in the star, convert all of it to electron-degenerate matter, and then _add_ mass—and a lot of it. More than 0.6 solar masses of it, another K or G star’s worth. Maybe if “plasma extraction” meant they were pulling it off another star through a wormhole, collapsing a white dwarf with the Yulai mass would be possible. But that is a tall order for known wormhole/stargate technology. For example, a titan has a mass between 2-3 billion kilograms. That is about 1 to 1.5 times 10^{-21} solar masses—–a billion trillion times lighter than the mass required to for Yulai to reach the Chandrasekhar limit! Either the Sansha have some insanely good wormhole technology, or they would have to wait longer than the lifetime of the universe to transfer the mass required. And that doesn’t solve the problem of quickly converting the entire Yulai star into electron-degenerate matter. Maybe one could do that with some heretofore-undiscovered laws of physics, but as far as we know it is impossible.

My conclusion is that the Sansha weren’t making a serious attempt to collapse a star. So what _were_ they doing?

Indeed. As usual science leaves us with more juicy and tantalizing mysteries than answers. I’m still convinced quantum entanglement  is at play here. Perhaps they needed a piece of the star to do something remotely to it (not unlike the common misconceptions of a voodoo doll).



~ by psychediver on 02/06/2011.

One Response to “(OOC) What Were They Doing?”

  1. Here and I was just figuring they were tapping the plasma as an energy source to power their new . . . .well . . . . worm bridges?


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