I enjoy reading hard science fiction and I'm also a subscriber to Astronomy Magazine. (I haven't done any of my own backyard astronomy yet, but I think about building my own backyard telescope.) I wanted to put together a short post about the cool ideas or discoveries for hard science fiction writers that I found in the 2019 issues of Astronomy Magazine. Here they are:
Discovery #1: An Icy Crater On Mars
The European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter captured images of a crater in the North Lowlands of Mars that is filled with ice. The crater is 51 miles wide and contains an icy bed that is over 1 mile thick in places. The crater is named for
Discovery #2: Farout A Distant Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System
The April 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine featured a short article about the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. It is a pink dwarf planet identified as 2018 VG, but nicknamed "Farout". Farout is 120 astronomical units from the Earth. It is about 3.5 times farther from Earth that its sister dwarf planet Pluto. The planet was found using the
Discovery #3: A Massive Star Births Its Own Small Companion Star
The April 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine also revealed the discovery of a giant start that had another small start born in its own protoplanetary disk. (This is the disk of dust and gas that orbits stars and gives birth to planets.) The main star, named MM 1A, is 40 times as massive as our sun. Its child star
The star system was discovered by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array Telescope.
Discovery #4: Dwarf Planet "Goblin" Has Highly Elliptical Orbit Throwing It 2300 Astronomical Units From The Sun
The February 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine has a short article talking about the discovery of the dwarf planet named 2015 TG 387, but nicknamed "The Goblin". The Goblin is about 220 miles in diameter. It follows a highly elliptical orbit that is over 2300 astronomical units from the sun at its farthest point. It takes 32,000 years to orbit the sun.
Would a colony or outpost on The Goblin be isolated from the rest of the solar system for the period of time when it was farthest of the sun? What type of society or group would seek that type of isolation on the cold dark edge of space? These are interesting questions that could be answered by a hard sci-fi writer.