News from Brandon Q. Morris
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The Rift is here

What if you would notice something strange in the sky: a huge, bold black streak. Branches appear out of nowhere over North America, Southern Europe, and Central Africa. People who live beneath The Rift can see it. But scientists worldwide are distressed—their equipment cannot pick up any type of signal from it. The rift appears to consist of nothing. Literally. Nothing. Nada. Niente. Most people are curious but not overly concerned. The phenomenon seems to pose no danger. It is just there.

Then something jolts the most hardened naysayers, and surpasses the worst nightmares of the world’s greatest scientists—and rocks their understanding of the universe.

The Rift is finally here:

I wish you much fun while reading it!

For me, it's only two more weeks until my research trip to New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Any space related tips for me in that area? Do you want to say hello? Just send me a reply if you are interested. I'll land in Albuquerque on first of June.

Some readers asked for audio versions of the newest books. They will come out later this year. Tantor Media, one of the largest audiobook producers, will create them.

What's next? We will go to Proxima Centauri b. I will tell you more in my next message in about two weeks.

Kind regards from my nightly desk!

Brandon Q. Morris
The first star explosions
After a star with significantly more mass than the Sun has consumed all its fuel, it decays into a massive firework display, a supernova. In today’s universe, that is not a very common sight, because the greatest percentage of stars is made up of red dwarfs, which end their lives not nearly so spectacularly. Our Sun is also not destined to turn into a supernova. It will grow into a red giant and then, at the end, only a harmless white dwarf will remain. In the early universe, however, things were much different. At that time, there were neither red dwarfs nor stars around the size of our Sun. Instead, the much smaller universe at that time was filled with giant stars that today would be classified in so-called Population III. They were made only of what the big bang had supplied for them: hydrogen, helium, and a bit of lithium. But the composition of the cosmos changed as these early stars ended their short, but energetic lives. Their explosions created the first heavy elements that would accumulate to form stars of the younger Populations II and I. Continue reading →
Gliding in the clouds of Venus

Every year, NASA uses the “NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts” program (NIAC) to finance interesting projects that might someday become a reality. Projects in Phase 1 are subject to a nine-month study on their general feasibility, while in Phase 2, projects receive a two-year grant to develop their designs in detail. At the end, they aren’t required to be commercially marketable just yet – the transition to that level of development is done in Phase 3. Currently, the list includes two projects whose destination is Venus, Earth’s hellish little sister.  Continue reading →

Did you miss one?
The Rift: Buy for $3.99
Silent Sun: Buy for $3.99
The Hole: Buy for $3.99
The Enceladus Mission: Buy for $2.99
The Titan Probe: Buy for $3.99
The Io Encounter: Buy for $3.99
Return to Enceladus: Buy for $3.99
Two values for one constant
The universe is expanding. That’s something astronomers have agreed on for a long time. Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer, was the first to discover that light from distant galaxies was shifted toward red frequencies by the time it reached us – which meant that the source of the light was moving away from us. The Hubble constant, which expresses how quickly the universe is expanding, was named in Hubble’s honor. It has a value of approximately (more on this later) 70 kilometers per second per megaparsec. For example, if an object is one million parsecs (3.26 million light-years) farther away from us than a second object, then it is moving 70 kilometers per second faster away from us than the second object. This constant can be measured in different ways. Space telescopes, such as Hubble or Gaia, for example, measure the brightness of certain variable stars, for which the relationship between change in luminosity and luminosity is known. In this way, the distance to galaxies containing these so-called standard candles can be calculated and the velocity at which these galaxies are moving away from us can be determined. Continue reading →
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