2019 Issue

The Long Night: Modeling the Climate of Westeros

Adiv Paradise, Alysa Obertas, Anna O'Grady, Matthew Young

Many previous authors have attempted to find explanations for Westeros's climate, characterized by a generally moderate, Earth-like climate punctuated by extremely long and cold winters, separated by thousands of years. One explanation that has been proposed is that the planet orbits in a Sitnikov configuration, where two equal-mass stars (or a star and a black hole) orbit each other on slightly eccentric orbits, and the planet moves along a line through the barycenter perpendicular to the primaries' orbital plane (Freistetter & Grützbauch 2018). We modify an intermediate-complexity GCM to include the effects of such an orbit and integrate it for thousands of years to determine whether such an orbit can a) be habitable and b) explain the climatic variations observed by the inhabitants of Westeros, in both double-star and star-black hole configurations. While configurations with low primary eccentricity and initial conditions that permit only small excursions from the ecliptic plane are habitable, these orbits are too stable to explain Westerosi climate. We find that while orbits with more bounded chaos are able to produce rare anomalously long and cold winters similar to Westeros's Long Night, huge variations in incident stellar flux on normal orbital timescales should render these planets uninhabitable. We note that the presence of an orbital megastructure, either around the planet or the barycenter, could block some of the sunlight during crossings of the primaries' orbital plane and preserve Westeros's habitability. While we find that bounded chaotic Sitnikov orbits are a viable explanation for Westeros's Long Night, we propose that chaotic variations of the planet's axial tilt or semimajor axis, potentially due to torques from nearby planets or stars, may be a more realistic explanation than Sitnikov orbits.

Worlds in Migration

Michael B. Lund

In this paper we discuss an alternative track for migration that can explain the existence of Hot Jupiters observed in close orbits around their stars based on a novel interpretation of established work. We also discuss the population of sub-Earth rogue planets that would be created via this migration method, which would be on the order of 2 to 40 billion, many of which would still be present in the Galaxy and potentially detectable.