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U=(N/T)M*G: Dust

Sometimes the most insane acts of destruction render a beautiful rebirth in its place. Not often, but every once in a while. In the great whirling dance of the cosmos, we find that beauty the most. R Aquarii just showed us a magnificent one.

This binary system has been documented as far back as 1073 CE by Korean astronomers, when the pair lit up with a massive solar jet arced out into its surrounding hourglass nebula. This duo has an extremely complex relationship, the white dwarf stealing mass from the red giant, a greedy cannibalism accompanied by a spectacular light show.

I wonder what it would be like to live in the light of those stars. Where one could sit on the ground outside of the house and stare up at them, either in system or the next system over. Cosmic particle warnings flashing over the TV or radio or phone, to cover down as the radioactive jets from R Aquarii erupted so close one could see the fine ribbons of energy from the dwarf. See the streamers from the giant as the dwarf devoured it.

This buffet has been going on for millions of years. Maybe an intelligent species has evolved close to this volatile binary system. Fed their myths. Influenced their biology. Shaped their cultures. Guided the evolution of their world.

Looks like a blast.

-T.A. Creech

Science in the pursuit of Fiction.


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