Tidal Locking

Tidal Locking

The Moon is locked into the Earth,
She only shows her best side,
Keeps her dark side turned away.
But the Earth has nothing to hide,
Beneath her gaze, we spin on full display,
For the Earth is not beholden to the Moon –
Not yet, at least –
And it won’t be soon,
For the Earth is a massive beast.
Yet the Moon is trying, trying,
And will yet succeed, one day –
But not before the seas have boiled away.

Now take a smaller star instead,
Like Proxima Centauri –
Very dwarven, very red,
But orbiting we see Proxima b
A planet similar to Earth,
A tenth as close as Mercury
With liquid water on its bed –
Except, to be precise,
More likely steam and ice,
With one side always baking dry,
The other frozen, dark and dead
You see, when this close in, it does not spin –
But wait, that’s wrong,
We ought to say it has a year-long day.
(About eleven Earth-days long).

Now let’s imagine orbiting round Rigel,
A super-blue, so hot and bright,
And though a massive mass, his heat and light
Outpace his gravity –
So if we were to move the Earth to where
We’ll get a decent share to keep it all anthropical,
To keep the Arctic icy and to keep the tropics tropical,
We wouldn’t be so deep within his spacetime cavity.
You see – we’d need to be about, say, twelve-times-Neptune out –
That’s over two light-days.
Our seasons would last centuries, our year now thirteen-hundred years
And all to catch enough, but strictly not too many rays.
And actually, the daylight would be rather dim, I hear –
As most of Rigel’s output, it appears,
Is in the UV band,
And not the visible so much, not that far out.
So even though it’s warm, no doubt,
The photosynthesis of plants now won’t get such a shout,
While all of us get super-tanned.
His stellar wind is vicious, but I think we could withstand
From this far off – but satellites may end in tears.
But at least we get to spin on our own gears,
So that’s a win.
Rigel hasn’t got a hope to lock us in !

As I understand it, a planet wouldn’t naturally form so far out from its parent star, as there’s not enough material. Of course, it could be a captured rogue planet or ripped from another star.

Also, I saw Rigel’s name written bown in the astronomy books of my youth long before I hard anyone ever pronounce it, so gor me Rigel will always have a hard G.

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