Thursday Throughput: Space Travel is Complicated Edition

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Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    ThTh1: I recall, somewhere, that the lines weren’t star streaks, but dust streaks. Not that that explanation made a whole lot more sense since the dust would need a light source to illuminate them.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      I always assumed they were some kind of debris. If you look at their size based on their movement relative to the ship, the Enterprise would have to be thousands of times larger than our solar system if they were stars.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky
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        says:

        I’ve also seen the explanation that since warp speed happens in sub layer (subspace) of space-time, the streaks are an artifact of that layer of space that just happens to emit in the visual spectrum.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    ThTh4: I like how Saturn has another moon pass between the Earth and Saturn. Nice reminder of who would be orbiting who.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    [ThTh1] The thing I always fan-wanked about “why do stars move past the Enterprise” is that we’re actually seeing the parallax effect of light; since the “stars” we perceive are actually photons that have been travelling for millions of years, then if we move at extremely high speed we’ll see an apparent “streak” as the photons “smear” across our detector.

    This would have an interesting effect on perceived frequency (color) — maybe the opposite of what you’d expect, with white at the “start” of the streak shading to red in the “travel” direction (because as you move along the streak, you’re “catching up” to photons you’d have missed, but since you’re sampling a point source along a line you get an apparent lengthening of the frequency…Report

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