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I am thinking about using Groombridge 1618 as a setting for my world. It is a main sequence star of spectral type K7.5 Ve, 67% of the Sun's mass. The habitable zone is at a radius of 0.26–0.56 AU. There is a possibility that it has a gas giant around it. It also might have a cold debris disk which I can use for raw materials.

It looks like a great location for my story and fits my plot nicely. However, Groombridge 1618 is a flare star. I am not sure how it would affect a human colony on a moon of a gas giant and terraforming attempts.

  1. What should I be concerned about?

  2. Is there something that could possibly make long-term human survival (thousands of years) in this system impossible?

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There are a great many ways to deal with radiation and flares, so starting in order of difficulty:

  1. Distance. Any spacefaring civilization can settle any body in free space or in orbit, so settling in cometary bodies in the star's Oort cloud puts you at sufficient distance from the star that flares become a minor annoyance. The ices of comets should contain sufficient Deuterium to run fusion reactors for thousands of years, and gigantic mirrors to concentrate solar energy can also be erected nearby, although the focal point should never be pointed at the colony.

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To be totally realistic, the star would be so far away it would simply be the brightest star in the sky and not show a visible disc

  1. Digging in. If the colonists are closer to the star, they can simply burrow into the body in question until there is sufficient mass between them and the star to provide protection. On an asteroid, they could take the additional step of aligning the long axis to point at the star and burrow into the "dark" pole to put the maximum amount of mass between them and the star. Solar mirrors and energy collection devices can be placed on the "hot" pole facing the star. This strategy works for moons and planets orbiting close to the star as well.

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An artificial cavern would look the same almost anywhere

  1. Artificial magnetic fields. With sufficient energy, artificial magnetospheres can be erected on or near planets, moons, asteroids or even artificial bodies in free space. While the L1 point may not be convenient with the star so close to the planet (typical planets orbiting Red Dwarf stars are found inside where Mercury orbits the Sun, for example), the magnetic device could be maintained in position using solar sails or other technology.

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Keeping the magnetic field generator in place will be an issue

  1. Modifying the star itself. Star Lifting technology can be used to remove material from the star, but since it operates by modifying and applying magnetic fields around the star, it could potentially be used to control the magnetic fields around the star itself, or direct flares away from the planet to regions beneficial to the star lifting civilization.

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Star lifting used to pump plasmas out of the stellar pole regions. This could also be used to redirect flares

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  • $\begingroup$ An artificial magnetic field is the only feasible option for my guys. Is there something they should be aware of? $\endgroup$ – Olga Sep 20 '17 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ The 4 points are all feasible, with Star Lifting at the far end of technological development. As noted, given the very close orbits of planets in the habitable zone of a Red Dwarf, a stable L-1 orbit may not be possible for the magnetic generator, so it will have to be propelled along by a lightsail or similar device. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 20 '17 at 13:20
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Okay so to protect from the radiation a flare puts out you need a strong magnetic field. It just so happens that the habitable moon of a large gas giant probably has not just one but two strong magnetic fields between it and the primary; if the gas giant is similar to Jupiter then the moon is probably within it's planetary magnetic field. Such large magnetic fields trap and ionise particles so a habitable moon will need it's own magnetic field, at reverse polarity to the local planetary field, to keep such particles largely out of it's atmosphere the same way Earth's magnetic field keeps normal solar winds from stripping our atmosphere. The net effect is that such a habitable moon will be very well insulated from stellar activity. They won't be completely covered mind, the colonists may still lose the odd crop to excessive surface radiation and would be well advised to keep Geiger Counters pointed at the sky and radiation bunkers in every town and isolated farmhouse, much like storm shelters in tornado alley. So constant monitoring, good food reserves and well shielded shelters for food, people, and livestock will be essential to maintaining a colony on such a moon but the problems will be minimal.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is no natural magnetosphere. But the colonists are working on artificial solutions (more questions to come :)). Should I expect EMPs, lasting radiation, or something similar? I am also thinking about genetically engineering higher radiation resistance in all flora and fauna. Would that help? $\endgroup$ – Olga Sep 19 '17 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ Okay there's likely to be at least a weak magnetic field induced in any two body system, but with no strong magnetosphere(s) you're looking at losing the atmosphere to the stellar winds even without any flares, worldwide EMP type effects from CMEs, secondary irradiation of the surface because of neutron absorption into crustal materials, and radiant melting of the surface where it's exposed to direct flare impacts. You could engineer some resistance to the increased background radiation but the other effects are going to be pretty drastic. $\endgroup$ – Ash Sep 19 '17 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Olga The technology for artificial magnetospheres should be well advanced before they can get to Groombridge 1818. It will be essential for interstellar travel. Even if the colonists could teleport directly there, they should have magnetic bubble technology as radiation protection for spacecraft. See abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/11/05/2411072.htm and newscientist.com/article/… Just google "magnetic bubbles" and protection $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 19 '17 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ Let's hope that the flares consist only and exclusively of charged particles and don't include the UV and X rays characteristic of our own local solar flares, because the magnetic field won't do anything to shield the colony from electromagnetic radiation (or from uncharged atoms, for that matter). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 19 '17 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP With an Earthlike atmosphere they don't really have to, it absorbs virtually everything at that end of the spectrum, but I did mention that any colonists will take loses due to radiation effects requiring heavily shielded shelters to wait out the bad storms. Neutron Radiation is super awkward to deal with without metres of rock between you and it since they don't interact with the atmosphere to any great degree. $\endgroup$ – Ash Sep 19 '17 at 14:40

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