Ads 468x60px

Friday, January 4, 2013

PENDOMUS INSIGHTS: Tidally-locked Planets

Welcome to PART 1 of my edification on all things Pendomus!

As I stated on Monday, now that I've started my query process, I am welcoming in 2013 with a series of posts regarding elements found in the Pendomus Chronicles.

There's a lot of cool, quirky things happening not only the world-building, but also the characters. Before I get to the group of misfits you'll meet when reading book one, I want to start off first with the planet itself.

While it's not overly examined in the first book, the fact that Pendomus is tidally-locked will play a larger role as the series goes on.

What the hell does tidally-locked mean, Carissa?

You know what? I'm glad you asked.

Due to tidal locking, the inhabitants of the central body will never be able to see the satellite's green area.
First you need to understand what the term tidal force means. "Tidal force is a secondary effect of the force of gravity and is responsible for the tides. It arises because the gravitational force per unit mass exerted on one body by a second body is not constant across its diameter, the side nearest to the second being more attracted by it than the side farther away."

According to the Great and Powerful Wikipedia, "Tidal locking (or captured rotation) occurs when the gravitational gradient makes one side of an astronomical body always face another, an effect known as synchronous rotation."

Okay... uhm... yeah... HUH? 

Basically this means that Pendomus is not rotating on an axis. One side of the planet is always facing the sun, the other always facing into darkness. In essence, it is a satellite, circling its sun.  Look at the picture to the right and pretend the central body is the sun. Make sense?

Believe it or not, you're already extremely aware of how tidal-locking works. We have our very own tidally-locked entity here on Earth.

Do you know what it is?

Yep. The moon.

Since the Moon is 1:1 tidally locked, only one side is visible from Earth.
 Now, whether or not the atmosphere of a tidally-locked planet could be viable is of much debate across the forums. However, I feel that being in the realm of sci-fi, anything is possible! Besides, this planet has a lot more going on than meets the eye. ;)

The stage for book one is set on the temperate band between the light and dark-- Not scorching hot and facing the sun, not frigid cold and facing the darkness. Instead, cold enough for snow and always perpetual twilight.

Still confused? Send me your questions. Think it's wicked cool? Let me know!

Next Friday: I'll discuss another cool phenomena happening on Pendomus: Sundogs.

Stay tuned!


Andrew Kincaid said...

Isn't science awesome? There was an exoplanet discovered two or three years ago that was tidally locked with its star. I believe it was a "super earth" about two or three times larger than our planet, with the twilight zone you described.

Oh and although we never really notice it, you can see part of the dark side of the moon from Earth. The tides are slightly "ahead" of the moon, giving it a slight tug and pulling it just so that sometimes you can see a part of the dark side. I forget precisely how the whole thing works, but that's the broad strokes. That quirk of the tides is also why the moon recedes from the earth by about an inch a year.

Carissa Andrews said...

Isn't this sort of stuff fascinating? Being able to sit and think or imagine what it would be like... that's what I love. Now that I've started querying... I can't wait to work more on book two and three! How've you been, Andrew?