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Worldbuilding xenobiology/astrophysics/climate questions

Discussion in 'Original Fiction Discussion' started by KHAAAAAAAN!!, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    Huh... just something that struck me, so I thought I'd throw it out: if you have a moon marking the hours at that speed, there's quite a bit of room for miscounting hours and days as someone moved east or west, leading to all types of problems—enough food for x-amount of time, but they're gone for y-amount of time, for instance.

    If nothing else, it would be part of your backstory, which could be how they came to depend on the second and third moon.
     
  2. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Wouldn't you have to be moving insanely quickly for that to matter on such a large planet? Top traveling speed in my world is limited to horseback equivalents and sailing.
     
  3. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    I started doing the math and realized that it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Though, I could see how cloud-cover, storms, etc., could throw them off a few days. Even losing count (a big wave washes over the counting mechanism) could cause problems. But that is nothing more than what ancient mariners had to deal with as well. The one difference, however, is that if it was daylight and only three celestial bodies to help tell the difference, a crew couldn't readjust their count by the stars, like the ancient mariners could (to a greater or lesser degree).
     
  4. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    A thought on this occurred to me at work. If the planet is X times the mass of Earth and Y times larger, that would mean any atmosphere it does have would be thicker at ground level than on Earth. What would the effects of that be on weather patterns? Would storms be more or less powerful? Would they last shorter/longer durations? Assuming the speed of the planet's rotation is the same as Earth's, of course.
     
  5. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    The rotation speed is vastly different. The planet is essentially rotating on its axis a few fractions faster than the time it takes to orbit the star.

    I was planning to have a massive super storm in the far southern hemisphere like on Jupiter and Neptune. Might not be feasible though. I haven't done my meteorology research yet.
     
  6. Agayek

    Agayek The Chosen One

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    That's gonna do some interesting things to the ecosystem. You'd essentially have summer going full-bore on the day side and a frozen desert on the night side, and the demarcations slowly shifting over the course of decades. Life on the planet would evolve to deal with it. I expect the vast majority of life, including plants, on that planet to end up going with either a hibernation cycle, where they go to sleep when the sun sets and wake up decades later when the sun rises once more, or massive migratory patterns to stay on the 'day' side. Which one a given species prefers would vary greatly depending on size and surrounding geography, but a solid rule of thumb would be "birds migrate, large land animals hibernate", while the smaller land animals that both require less resources and can't store them as easily would be actively 'nocturnal', but likely prone to slow metabolisms or at least having the ability to enter a state that slows their bodily processes. Plants would follow along similar lines, albeit it's more "hitch a ride on migratory animals" vs "develop a hibernation state akin to leaveless trees only much, much better", with a side order of "spread seeds everywhere once twilight starts and then die when night falls"

    Assuming, of course, that the planet's rotation is in the correct direction (same as its orbit, CW to CW, CCW to CCW).

    If it rotates in the opposite direction, then you'd have a vastly accelerated version of the above, with a full day-night, dawn-to-dawn cycle taking about a year. The ecosystem would be similar to the above, but there'd be less severe extremes amongst the flora and fauna because of the whole cycle being less severe.

    I kinda hope it's the first one though, if only because then you can totally riff on Song of Ice and Fire with the whole 'winter is coming' thing.

    That depends greatly on the composition of the planet, but as far as I'm aware, Earth-like planets can't sustain perpetual storms like that. You can easily have an area that's prone to frequent violent hurricanes or severe storms of several types (though the details needed for the area would vary greatly based on what kind of storms you want and it's unusual for the same system to support frequent clashes of different weather phenomena without being fed from other areas), but there's no way for self-sustaining phenomena like Jupiter's spot to develop over a solid planet.
     
  7. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Isn't the planet supposed to be tidally locked? I.e. One side of the planet continually faces the star while the other faces away, almost permanently. That would mean no diurnal or nocturnal creatures because there is no day/night cycle worth mentioning. It'd be daylight/twilight/nighttime creatures that aren't adapted to the other hemisphere.
     
  8. Agayek

    Agayek The Chosen One

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    You're absolutely right if the planet's tidally locked to the star. He said "The planet is essentially rotating on its axis a few fractions faster than the time it takes to orbit the star" though. And that's what prompted my talk of the cycle. As long as the planet rotates even just the slightest bit faster than it orbits the star, the day/night demarcation would shift with every orbit.

    For example, let's say it completes 1.01 rotations to 1.00 orbits. In that case, the demarcation would shift (0.01*planet's circumference) opposite the direction of the planet's rotation. The next rotation it would have moved to (0.02*planet's circumference), and so on. After ~50 orbits, the hemispheres would have swapped entirely, so that the original day side is now on the night side.

    This would probably be easier to understand if you draw out the planet's system and mark the day/night demarcation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  9. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Good point. I was envisaging the cycle as being much slower than that, with hundreds of years between sunrise and sunset.
     
  10. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Yes, yes, and yes. Most of the undomesticated plant and animal life is going to be capable of forming chrysalis cocoons (a bit like Way of Kings) and I'm going to call it something fantasyish... like... the Long Sleep. The vegetation of darkside will be parasitic for the most part, and will have evolved to bloom in the dark. Because plants are fucking boss like that.
     
  11. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Alchemist

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    Couldn't that also mean you have constant gnarly storms at the shockbetween the hot side and cold? What would be the temperature difference on the sun side and cold side?
     
  12. Agayek

    Agayek The Chosen One

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    The temperature differential would be extremely high. Assuming an atmosphere and orbital distance roughly equivalent to Earth's, the day-side temp would be on the high end of Earth tropical on average (mostly due to the increased size leading to increased energy retention from the Sun), and the night-side would be, well, when I said "frozen desert", I wasn't exaggerating. Some heat would leak over to the dark side, but it would mostly come in the form of reflected sunlight off the moons, and that's not nearly enough to keep things from icing over. It may seem a little extreme, but Hoth would be a decent comparison to the conditions of an area at the height of the nighttime (read: directly facing away from the sun).

    As for storms, yes and no, at least as far as I'm aware. There'd be a buffer zone where the transition is semi-gradual, with the size dependent on how quickly the demarcation moves, but it should be relatively small (I'd expect no more than a few hundred miles at most), and this area would be very chaotic, meteorologically speaking. It depends greatly on surrounding terrain, but most likely there'd be a consistent high-altitude current of air sweeping from the N-S line directly facing the sun toward the darkside, and when that current of air meets the cold air of the darkside, there'd be massive pressure differentials and turbulence and all sorts of chaos.

    It's hard to say if it'd turn into persistent storms though. That depends on two factors: 1) The moisture in the air carried by either current, and 2) How abrupt the transition is. Smaller buffer zones would be much more chaotic, and therefore be more easily prone to storms, where as larger ones, where warm air can cool and start condensing over a larger area would be less prone. Same for wet air vs dry air. Given the size of the planet and its rate of rotation, I'd put money on there not being any permanent storms, but that the area immediately around the demarcation is well known for unpredictable weather and random monsoons.
     
  13. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    A lot would depend on the atmosphere, in regards to temperature at least. If the warm air from the day side moves fast enough consistently it would be able to keep a large portion of the night side in relative warmth, though the opposite side of the planet to the sun would naturally be the coldest point.
     
  14. Photon

    Photon Order Member

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    I am not sure. Just before dawn is the coldest time, here movement of air would disturb it significantly but I would expect coldest point closer to the approaching terminator rather than simply on the opposite side.
     
  15. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    It's going to be pretty flipping cold. Well below zero. Spending more than an hour or two out in the open air is a death sentence far enough into the dark. Executions on the floating city state involve stripping people down and chaining them to the sailing masts.
     
  16. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    That's the case on our world because we have a fairly quick orbital rotation speed while being an average sized rocky planet. It takes that long for the temperature to drop to its lowest possible state. On this hypothetical planet we're looking at years between sunrise and sunset. That's more than enough time for the minimum possible temperature for those conditions to be reached, so the only thing potentially warming a given nightside area would be winds from the dayside bringing hot air with them.

    Those winds wouldn't reach the far side of the planet without losing all their heat, ergo the coldest point is the point furthest away from the star.
     
  17. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Volcanic and pyroclastic activity, and the residual heat from the planet's molten core will be the main sources of darkside warmth.
     
  18. Agayek

    Agayek The Chosen One

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    I dunno about that. Unless the planet's substantially more volcanically active than Earth, that's unlikely (according to Wikipedia, only about 0.03% of Earth's surface energy budget comes from the core). There's just not much heat, relatively speaking, that reaches the surface from the core. It would take a lot of highly active volcanoes to affect meaningful climate effects, and even that would be more due to all of the ash and dust they throw into the atmosphere than the heat released.

    More likely, the big sources of heat are going to be airflow from the day-side, which is extremely unlikely to make it far into the darkside, solar energy either captured by the magnetosphere and curved onto the darkside (in the form of auroras primarily) or reflected off the planet's moons, and, depending on surface conditions, oceanic currents.

    I'm a bit cautious on that last one, because I'm not sure currents would be able to form and keep themselves going with how rapidly, geologically-speaking, the conditions would change. I just don't know enough about oceanography to know if/how currents would form in a long-term day-night cycle like we're looking at; one of the ocean's big things in the ecosystem is that it's got a lot of inertia to overcome, which is one of the reasons climate change is so gradual on Earth. If the planet was tidally locked with an ocean crossing the day-night demarcation, you can bet your ass there'd be an extremely powerful circular current moving warm water to the darkside and cold water to the day side, much like the Gulf Stream IRL, but I can't say for sure something like that would ever form in the 50ish year cycle you're going for.
     
  19. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Ah no. It's not a 50 year cycle. It's about 5 centuries. The change is incredibly slow.

    Darkside, the planet is basically frozen ocean peppered with long strings of volcanic islands. And by main sources of heat I meant that the city state moves from volcanic epicenter to volcanic epicenter, not that the volcanos heat the planet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  20. Agayek

    Agayek The Chosen One

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    Ah, that makes more sense.

    Just a note though: Frozen ocean is ludicrously unlikely. A very thick layer of ice on top of it is a certainty, but the ocean is not going to freeze through entirely. I could see small, inland seas, analogous to the Great Lakes or the Black Sea becoming solid ice, but the ocean proper just isn't going to. There's way too much heat stored in the oceans. They're a literal heatsink, absorbing heat and energy from the sun and slowly releasing it all over the world. Once the initial ice layer forms though, none of that heat can be released, so it stays in the water and keeps it liquid until the heat can bleed out into the ground, which takes ages, and can't be done if there's any convection currents connecting the ocean in question to the day side.

    It's very possible that's what you meant, but I figured I should mention it just in case.
     
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