Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are We Really Sure How Stars Decline?

The tenets of ecocosmology are based on the scientific understanding concerning how stars decline then die out.

In recent years there have been discoveries which challenge the existing models of stellar decline, also challenging the tenets of ecocosmology to some degree because the science and the tenets are inextricably linked together.

It behooves us, then, to revisit the tenets periodically as we revisit the current stellar models, hypotheses, and theories.

Two quick examples will illustrate the point, the first concerns red dwarf stars:

One mystery which has not been solved as of 2007 is the absence of red dwarf stars with no metals. (In astronomy, a metal is any element heavier than hydrogen or helium). The Big Bang model predicts the first generation of stars should have only hydrogen, helium, and trace amounts of lithium. If such stars included red dwarfs, they should still be observable today, but none have yet been identified. The preferred explanation is that without heavy elements only large and not yet observed population III stars can form, and these rapidly burn out leaving heavy elements which then allow for the formation of red dwarfs. Alternative explanations, such as that zero-metal red dwarfs are dim and could be few in number, are considered much less likely as they seem to conflict with stellar evolution models.

(Red Dwarf Stars, emphasis added). Another issue challenges our understanding as well:

"A massive star a million times brighter than our sun exploded way too early in its life, suggesting scientists don't understand stellar evolution as well as they thought."

(Star Explodes, So Might Theory, emphasis added). There is some mystery about the red giant Betelgeuse also.

The First Tenet of Ecocosmology states:

1) The stars like our Sun, at the center of all solar systems, will support life forms for an amount of time, but will then destroy life on the planets near them at an unknown time during each solar system's developmental life cycle.

a) For stars that are late K thru M, such as red dwarfs, this applies to the deadly outbursts, that come short of physical destruction, of the planets orbiting close to that type star.

(Revised 2/12/12, See Tenet One Basics). That is true for all planets orbiting stars which fit that mold, but what about a red dwarf?

The current teaching is that they do not destroy the planets near them, they die out orders of magnitude more slowly than our Sun will, and they just fizzle out so to speak.

So, in one sense the tenet holds true for all star types, it is just that some stars require a relatively quicker response from any species on the inhabited planets around them.

That response is the same for all species on all planets, which is finding another habitable planet to live on when the star which the planet orbits expands to destroy them, or fizzles out to leave the planet no longer habitable.

The difference among those like us who inhabit planets orbiting destructive-decline stars, and those who might inhabit planets orbiting red dwarfs, is that they have a much, much, much longer time frame within which to find another home world than we do.

The silver lining in this cloud is that red dwarfs would be very, very long lasting locations for "bases" from which to search for new home worlds, perhaps taking the pressure off planets like Earth whose inhabitants have a million times less time to find a new home world.