Three Demons

“We could now turn and set course for the Pleiades,” Andrew finally said after they together studied the GalMap and the various roads from there. The Pleiades were one of the most famous star clusters and so to say the sister cluster to the Hyades.

Elvira Martuuk looked eager. She had relaxed quite a bit since they left Khun and her workload behind. No doubt her junior engineers were swearing now in some strange slang, but here they were and all Andrew could do was show her what her incredible work of ‘attuning’ Frame Shift Drives was capable of.

“But we won’t. The Pleiades and their surroundings warrant their own exploration mission and you could literally poke around for weeks and still continue finding interesting things. Or if GalNet and gossip can be trusted those interesting things may even find you if you’re (un)lucky.”

Martuuk seemed dismayed. Understandably so, since the Pleiades were very popular among explorers. “But where do we go instead?” she asked.

“Well, instead of the Pleiades we turn ‘right’ and stay more or less on the galactic plane and roughly within our mission radius of 500 light years. I want to show you the Gorgons”

“Gorgons?”

“Aye, demons from the ancient world of the Greeks. Sisters again, in fact. Legends hold that their hair was made of living snakes. They were more or less related to the hero Perseus so it’s no wonder they are located in the Perseus constellation and that their astronomical names are indeed Pi Persei, Rho Persei and Omega Persei. More commonly they are called Gorgonea Secunda, Tertia and Quarta. If you ask yourself, why there is no Gorgonea Prima, it’s Algol or Beta Persei. It’s just that the Arabic name ‘ras al-ghul’ stuck with it somehow, meaning ‘Demon Star’.

Ask any astronomer, the heavens seem to be divided more or less equally between the Arabs and the Greeks. It’s funny: Some say Pranav Antal was born in Greece, or what’s now become of it.”

Elvira raised an eyebrow.

“Anyway,” Andrew continued, “I’d recommend every exlporer to visit the Gorgon sisters. It’s always good to know the girls in the neighbourhood. Gorgonea Secunda even has a neutron star orbiting the A primary.

“Must be one of the closest neutron stars to Sol then,” Elvira muttered.

“Quite likely.” Andrew ran his fingers over the haptic hologram of the galaxy map and zoomed in on the star. 309.76 light years. Can’t think of a neutron star closer to Sol at the moment. But speaking of neutron stars and things…” His fingers ran over the hologram again, zooming out, zooming in.

“There is a must-see system along the route and that’s HR 490. It’s not only a B-type star but also a strong source of x-rays, which can mean a few things. The most probable explanation would be that something is creating this strong radiation by the conversion of matter into energy. This usually happens when matter from an accretion disk falls into a black hole or a neutron star, the results being jets of highly energized particles emitting bursts of x-ray radiation.” Andrew leaned back in his seat

“And lo and behold! In HR 490 we not only find a B-type star but also a black hole orbiting said star. Plus, further out but still within the gravitational boundaries of the system, another black hole and a neutron star are orbiting each other. We may have found one of the most exotic star systems within 300 light years from Sol! Two black holes and a neutron star. Wow! Imagine what catastrophic events must have happened here millions of years ago!”

Elvira Martuuk weighed her head and had a good look at the course Andrew laid out before them. Finally she said: “All right, Cowboy! You got me there. Palin can wait. Let’s visit some demons and that gaping maw of a system!”


Trip Advisory:

  • Gorgonea Secunda (‘Named system’, Neutron Star)
  • Gorgonea Tertia (‘Named system’, M III Red Giant)
  • Gorgonea Quarta (‘Named system’, K III Giant)
  • HR 738 (K III Giant)
  • HR 490 (2 Black Holes, 1 Neutron Star)
  • HIP 10141 (K II Supergiant)
  • 56 Andromedae (Binary G III Giants)

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