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A Star Called Sirius

In Building Victoria, the characters bring us to two new stars. The first we encounter is Sirius. Hot and young, Sirius is the brightest star (excepting Sol, aka our sun) in our skies.

From Earth, the star resides in the Canis Major (the great dog) constellation. 3000 years ago it's heliacal rising corresponded with the summer solstice--though it has shifted since then. In the late summer you will see it rise in the south-east before dawn.

It is such a bright star, that the ancients believed its light, combined with that of The Sun, is what made summer so hot. Because Sirius is the Dog Star, it is where we get the saying, "the dog days of summer."

Sirius, however, is not just one star, but two--though we see little light from the second.

The stars are a member of the Sirius stellar moving group, which includes all 5 members of the big dipper. These stars are young (around 250-490 million years old--or a tenth the age of our sun) and are all moving toward the galactic center.

Sirius A (the larger and brighter star) is a bluish-white dwarf star, with approximately 2x Sol's mass and a diameter roughly 1.70 Sol's. Sirius B is a white dwarf remnant that orbits with its sister star as it slowly cools and dies.

Sirius will not live long (astronomically speaking). Sirius B was once the larger and brighter of the pair, but it quickly burned through its fuel likely turned into a red giant before puffing away its outer layers to reveal a remnant white-dwarf core. Sirius A will last a bit longer than its sister, but certainly not more than another billion years.

If the short lifespan of the stars was not enough to guarantee life (as we know it) never evolving there, the luminosity and stellar radiation pouring off Sirius A will certainly destroy any biological molecules before they get a chance to thrive.

To put it simply, it is 21 times brighter than Sol. Planets within a safe, habitable zone would be further from Sirius A than Jupiter is from Sol.

So why, in the 42nd century, are humans living there?

The answer is simple, When Sirius B (the now small white dwarf remnant) went through its nova, it spewed dust and gas and raw elements through the system. Sirius is a gold-mine of raw materials and exotic elements.

Normally, when a star goes nova, much of these precious resources are lost to interstellar space. But in the case of these two stars, Sirius A captured those resources and they are waiting for humans to harvest them.