Archive for September, 2016

A Stellar Romance

September 24, 2016

Once upon a time, in the vast darkness of the cosmos, there were two stars.  Well actually, there were hundreds of billions, or maybe trillions or more stars, but this story is about two of them.  These two stars floated through space, never close to any others, light-years away from their closest neighbors.  Being stars, they were pretty good at entertaining themselves, and for the most part, they were OK with this, but they had few satellites, and no one in their galaxy really talked to them, so they, over the course of millions of years, became lonely.

One day, the two stars, one of whom was named Zaphros IV, the other of whom was named Whismur, greeted each other.  The greetings and the messages of stars are conveyed in the twinkling of their lights, the slight alterations in their cosmic emissions, and so, can reach very far away.  They were very far apart from each other, more than a billion light years, but they greeted, and each of them responded, and while this simple message of “Hi.  Hello.” took a billion years to play out, somehow for both of them, it was enough.  They began to speak more frequently, sending their messages through the ether.  They both watched one another, and were able to discover, to their surprise that their current trajectories would bring them incredibly close, less than a lightyear apart from each other.  Now this would be billions of years from now, but stars are patient, and so they spoke, they got to know each other, and they fell in love.

The messages they sent first took a billion years to send, as they got closer the time took less and less, and they were able to speak more quickly, able to communicate more effectively.  After a time it only took a few hundred million years to send a message, then later, only a fifty million.  They discussed fusion reactions, and solar flares, and the composition of the galaxy, and their weird black hole friends, and what they wanted to be when they grew up, maybe a phasar, or maybe a supernova or a blackhole.  They got closer, and their messages quicker, only a million years now, then only a few hundred thousand.  As they got closer, they started to talk about their orbits.  Did they want to stay together, to try and become a binary star system, and never fly apart.  Yes, it turned out that that was something that they both wanted.  So they began to adjust their trajectories, making slight adjustments to the way they traveled through the void, making sure they were closer and closer together.  Now stars can only change these things a little.  Mostly it is gravity that controls their flight, but by emitting more energy on one side or the other, or changing their fusion reaction, the stars can alter it a little, and so they did.

Zaphros IV and Whismur got closer and closer together, both physically and emotionally, only a thousand years between messages now, then a couple hundred.  It was at this point that they realized their mistake.  The two of them had talked about the paths they needed to take in order to become a binary star system, how they could make a stable orbit, and what path they would take.  Both had however, independently decided that they were going to surprise the other, and make themselves a little closer, still within safe margins, but closer than they had planned on.  But, as they became just a few lightyears apart, they realized that since they had both adjusted themselves closer, instead of making a stable orbit, they were going to collide, crash into one another and explode into a double nova.  Now, they talked about it, and they thought about it, and while they both wanted that, both were willing to die in order that they might have one, explosive, supernova-ey, cosmic hug, neither was willing to see the other die for that.  And so, as they came within less than a lightyear or one another, they put all their effort into pushing themselves apart.

Instead of a stable orbit, they had to slingshot around one another, then fly away in opposite directions.  At their closest point, the two released huge bursts of cosmic energy, their streams of starlight touching together, almost like a stellar holding of hands, and then, they were past each other, moving away.  They talked, and they cried, and the talking grew harder, the distances grew further.  A few lightyears, then a hundred, then a thousand.  They were a hundred million lightyears apart, then a billion.  As they drifted apart, their messages coming less and less frequently, the tow continued to hope.  Perhaps, they thought, this universe has a spherical geometry, and as the two of us move further apart, we are in fact, also getting closer, in the other direction.  So, a hundred billion lightyears apart, Zaphros IV and Whismur continued to love, and continued to hope.