This page takes a look at the different types of systems you may encounter in FE2 and FFE, and attempts to draw comparisons with real world astronomy. Obviously aspects such as planetary information (see Planets page) are to be taken with a pinch of salt, sightings of planets outside our solar system have for the most part been confined to extremely large gas giants, some 10 times the mass of Jupiter. But it is nice to think that David Braben may be right: life on other planets may be fairly common, but as such intelligent life is restricted to hominids, such as ourselves and the Thargoids. Practically everything else is based in some form of fact: the different star types, A, B, F, G, K, M, the Red Giants and Supergiants all exist in our Universe, and binary to sextuple star arrangements exist as well.
Stars may be alone or may have a number of companion stars in the immediate vicinity. One possible exception is Alcor (0,5) and Mizar (0,5) in Frontier: Elite 2. The distance between them is listed as 0.00 ly, and as such should be considered as a binary with eccentric orbits. The different arrangements in FE2 and FFE are as follows:
- The most common, these systems consist of one star and a number of orbiting planets, such as Sol and Achenar. Oddly, there are never any true solitary stars, as each has a system of planets in orbit around it. If anyone finds an exception, let me know!
- Two stars in orbit around a common centre of mass. Sirius is a good example, there are many binary systems in the Frontier universe, these tend not to have life-supporting planets in orbit, although there are a few. This could be because of the intense radiation from both stars (especially if one is a white dwarf) and the eccentric orbit a planet must have: if it has to orbit in a figure of eight (I have not yet found a planet in either game that does this) it will eventually be ripped apart by the sheer gravitational forces it encounters. Most planets tend to orbit one star only.
- Same as binary except three stars. Orbits tend to vary, usually it is like a binary system with the additional star acting like a 'satellite'.
- Two binary systems, one orbiting the other.
- Quarternary with additional 'satellite' star.
- 3 binaries.
Stars themselves have been given a number of classifications, this usually consists of a letter given to stars which fit the main sequence in Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams, other stars which fall outside this are generally giants, supergiants and white dwarfs.
The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram shows the general arrangement of star types: stars whose classification is a letter will be somewhere along the main sequence, this will indicate its colour and absoloute magnitude from which its surface temperature in Kelvin can be calculated. This diagram is extremely important in helping astronomers classify the different star types.
Main stars in FrontierMost major types are defined except for Type O, which does not exist in Frontier, and brown dwarf substellar objects, which are not technically stars.
Here we have the Imperial capital, home of the Emperor of the Imperial systems and arguably the most powerful man in the Universe. Achenar (1, -4), a Eridani or SAO 232481 lies in the constellation Eridanus, 'The River'. Can't see life developing around this, for the same reasons as that of a type A, only more so. See below.
A picture of Altair (-2,1). Altair, a Aquilae, 53 Aquilae (Flamsteed number) or SAO 125122 lies in the constellation Aquila, 'The Eagle'. Type A stars are much hotter than our own type G; as a result they have a tendency to 'burn' their fuel much quicker. The chances of life actually appearing around a type A are slim due to the intense radiation and relatively short 'burn' time.
Facece: (0,-4) Imperial 'No. 2' if you will, the equivalent of the Federation's Barnards Star, only more productive and 'military friendly'.
Sol (0,0), the most recognisable star and the star that is imprinted psychologically on the minds of all humans. It seems somehow 'right' to live under a type G as opposed to any other type of star, those who do end up settling under a different type of star will almost certainly feel a sense of loss and unexpected homesickness. Type Gs are quite common, and when viewed from a distance are totally nondescript.
Epsilon Indi (-1,-1) according to FE2 and FFE is a type K, but apparently (at this moment) according to astronomers it is a type G, similar to the sun. It can't have cooled down sufficiently in a 1200 year period... It lies in the constellation Indus, 'The Indian', referring to the native term for a North American aborigine. Andrea Bindolini from Italy adds that "It is a K5 star: in reality, slightly closer to an M star rather than a G."
Type M red stars may occasionally be referred to as Red Dwarves. This is because they are very faint and are generally a fraction of the mass of our own sun. Kapteyns star (1,-1) lies somewhere in Pictor, 'The Painters Easel' and is a very boring star which is why it was never colonised even for mining as you can see here.
Type M Flare
YZ Canis Minoris (2,0) , as its name suggests is in Canis Minor, 'The Lesser Dog'. Like Kapteyns Star it is a dull and very boring star except this one is a flare star, with massive periodical coronal mass ejections which (when viewed from a suitable observation platform) are extraordinary.
Arcturus (-2,0) is located in the constellation Bootes, 'The Herdsman'. a Bootis, 16 Bootis or SAO 100944 is a high magnitude Red Giant. Life could develop around these just before they reach Red Giant stage, but it would have to evolve pretty quickly, once a star reaches Red Giant stage it starts chucking out vast quantities of radiation and its life span reduces exponentially as the hydrogen/helium/lithium fuel is fused into heavier elements. This happens with remarkable pace and when the fuel is fused into iron, reactions stop. A nova results unless the star is sufficiently massive to explode in a supernova.
Alioth (0,4), the capital of the recently emerging Alliance, is similar in mass to Achenar but is much cooler. This would suggest that it is more of a Yellow Giant, located above the sun in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Alioth lies in Ursa Major, 'The Great Bear', it is also known as e Ursae Majoris, 77 Ursae Majoris and SAO 28553. It is (almost) feasible that life could have evolved in this system, but as with Red Giants (ablove), there wouldn't be much time for evolution to take place.
Rigel (92,6) is a massive star but occupies a correspondingly larger volume so is therefore much less dense than small stars like type As. Rigel has only been explored in FFE, in FE2 it is listed as an unexplored world. Life couldn't possibly exist here because of the radiation levels from Rigel and its smaller companion star. Rigel is the constellation Orion 'The Hunter', it is also known as b Orionis, 19 Orionis and SAO 131907.
Betelgeuse (59,14) is similar to Rigel in size but is considerably cooler. It is also in Orion, Betelgeuse is also known as a Orionis, 58 Orionis and SAO 113271.
Anave (3,0) is an example of what happens at the end of a star's life. Well, not quite the end, after the glory is wasted in a nova or supernova this is all that remains. Depending on the mass of the star it may continue to collapse under its own gravity into a neutron star, if it begins to rotate it may be a pulsar. If the star is more massive still, it could collapse into a black hole. Eventually Anave itself will cool down into a Black Dwarf, the cold dead remnants of a once proud star, and this is how the sun will be eventually.
Thanks to Stuart Wilson for the information on this page