Upali C/D II

Home system for the Hamilton Institute of Exopaleontology

Delta Upali
Image from Aaron Hamilton


Age7.43 billion years
Distance from Sol239.65 light years
Near the open cluster Melotte 111, no true physical association
A and B COMPONENTSUpali A and Upali B
Notes: Both stars of approximately the same mass, both evolved off the main sequence at roughly the same time, at 1.87 billion years of age
Spectral Type: dZ and dZ
A-B Separation: 200 AU
AB-CD Separation:2500 AU
Planets around A and BA-I: Second generation rocky world
A-II: Second Generation rocky world
A-III: Second generation rocky world
A-IV: Reduced gas giant
A-V: Reduced gas giant
B-I: Second generation rocky world
B-II: Second generation rocky world
B-III: Original, desiccated rocky world
B-IV: Reduced gas giant in eccentric orbit
C and D COMPONENTSUpali C and Upali D
Notes: Stars are mature enough that major flares do not occur, save as rare events on a geological time scale.
Spectral Type: M2 V and M2.5 V
C-D Separation: 0.023 AU
CD-AB Separation: 2500 AU
Planets around C and DCD-I: Small rocky world
CD-II: Living world, natural ecosystem
CD-III: Super Earth;, thick atmosphere, possibly high greenhouse temperatures suitable for a global ocean
CD-IV: Minor terrestrial world, atmosphere of nitrogen, surface activity caused by tidal stresses due to large satellite
CD-V: Dwarf planet, sharing orbit with the remains of an asteroid belt
CD-VI: Eccentric Neptunian world


The Upali system is an interesting family of stars, one that has had a remarkable and very dynamic history. This history was first hinted at by the presence of the two primary stellar members, each one a white dwarf, locked in a wide orbit about one another. With masses and temperatures nearly identical, it was immediately obvious that they had evolved off of the main sequence together, and had formed white dwarfs at the same time as well. The progenitor stars were A-type dwarfs, and for nearly two billion years put out large amounts of radiation and heat energy. Their cores were convective and utilized the CNO cycle for energy generation, typical for stars of their class. Indeed, in this form they were remarkably similar to Sirius, located in the Core regions.

After approximately one billion years, however, the stellar cores were exhausted of hydrogen, the suns moving off of the main sequence as a result. For several hundred million years they existed as red giants, before finally collapsing, shedding their outer layers and becoming the white dwarfs seen today. During their collapse, the system was awash in twin planetary nebula. Though short-lived on an astronomical scale, for millions of years the system would have provided a remarkable spectacle for the local galactic region.

During this period of stellar evolution, the other two members of the system were also evolving, albeit at a much slower rate. Upali C and D are both red dwarfs, each of nearly equal mass, and locked into a very tight mutual orbit of 0.023 AU. During their first billion years of life, each star was extremely chromospherically active, throwing out major flares that typically brightened the stars in the visual, radio, and X-ray regions of the spectrum by hundreds of times. However, as the stars aged, they calmed; today, it is expected that the stars might produce a major flare once every few hundred thousand years, largely as a result of their interacting magnetic fields. Evidence has been found of these events on icy bodies in the outer regions of the system, occurring at various points throughout the past several million years. However, no cyclic evidence is present in the ice cores studied, leaving open the terrible option that such a flare could occur again in another ten thousand years, or tomorrow.

As a whole, the Upali system is nearly 8 billion years old. Despite this age, the system has a relatively high incidence of heavy metals. Both groups of stars have their own planetary systems as well. Those worlds orbiting the C-D pair are primarily rocky worlds with icy outer layers, largely what one would expect from terrestrial planets orbiting a red dwarf (or, in this case, two red dwarfs). Those worlds orbiting the A and B components, however, have a more varied history. As with almost all other stars, during their initial formation the A-B pair formed their own family of planets. While there is no way to tell for certain what the makeup of these primordial systems were, it is likely that the gas giants were located in outer orbits, while the hot inner systems fostered the growth of rocky worlds. However, as these stars moved off of the main sequence and became red giants, these inner planets were consumed and obliterated. Only the outer planets remained.

Nevertheless, today we find planetary bodies orbiting the inner regions of both systems. These worlds are second generation planets, formed from the material shed by both stars as they collapsed into white dwarfs. As such, these planets are dense worlds rich in heavy metals, and are found relatively close to their parent suns. And yet, even these worlds show orbital irregularities. Some are highly eccentric, while there are also indications that planets are actually missing, this being hinted at by gaps in the system where worlds should have formed according to all modern theories. Even in the CD system, Upali VI orbits in such an eccentric manner that seems to have ejected a former planetary member, a planet that can be found light years away.

The key to this mystery is the current location of the Upali System. Several million year ago, the Upali suns entered into the Melotte 111 open cluster, a collection of some 100 stars approximately 480 million years old. While this association is entirely coincidental, albeit remarkable on a galactic scale, it has not gone on without consequences. When first explored, certain irregularities regarding the orbits of some major planets, as well as thousands of minor worlds, confused the survey team. One world even seemed to be missing.

Later, extensive surveys of the nearer cluster members found a brown dwarf with a small planetary family. Of the four worlds following this sub-stellar body, all but the inner most were in highly eccentric orbits. And the outer most planet was even more confusing, as it seemed to have a surface age of several billion years. Surface analysis later discovered isotopic evidence that the planet's crust had been heavily modified by extreme stellar output corresponding to the same sort of deposits found on the outer bodies of the Upali CD system. It became clear that this planet had once been orbiting that stellar pair. So what had happened?
Approximately 750,000 years ago, the brown dwarf had passed through the Upali system. Judging from orbital data, it had apparently passed between the A and B suns, and had then moved through the outer CD system. The result was the somewhat eccentric orbits of the second generation worlds, and the ejection of the former sixth planet of the CD system, an ejection which eventually resulted in its recapture by the interloping brown dwarf.

Upali will likely remain within the cluster for another few million years, as the two objects are moving in roughly the same direction, with Upali being only marginally faster. The odds of another close encounter such as the one involving the Interloper are unlikely, however. All astrometric analysis shows no possibility of another encounter with a stellar body closer than 0.97 light years from the center of the system.

Clearly, this system has had a remarkable and varied history. While those intrepid explorers which first came here to settle the Upali suns could not have foreseen the remarkable future that awaited them, it is fitting that they should have chosen this remarkable set of stars as their home.


The open star cluster Melotte 111 has been known since antiquity, having played a part in at least two ancient Human Earth-based constellations (Leo the Lion and later Coma Berenices). Scientifically, it garnered marginal interest in astronomical circles, with its parameters being well known by the middle of the 21st Century (old Calendar). At some 288 light years from Sol, and approximately 450 million years old, its 100-some number of member stars represents a wide variety of main sequence bodies. However, there is a dearth of light weight members, the majority of which are believed to have been lost or ejected over the last half billion years. Beyond these facts, and others concerning its relative velocity through the galaxy, approximate size, and so forth, there was little to draw attention to the cluster.

It was not until 218 AT that the first detailed examination of Melotte 111 was performed, being from the space-based astronomical observatory located in a high polar orbit 1.3 AU from Sol. This was the short-lived Beringia Observatory, which was dedicated to long term open cluster observation and member star cataloguing, but which suffered a catastrophic power plant failure and was totally destroyed five years after coming online. Beringia was capable of detecting worlds about stellar members down to 1.3 Earth-masses within 0.5 AU of their suns, and indeed a fine catalogue of worlds in this cluster was accrued. As was expected, the majority of those discovered were Jovian worlds, with a large population of terrestrial planets, all very young, and still in the late stages of their formative periods.

However, one star in particular stood out from the rest of the cluster. Catalogued as BerMel 115 (the 115th star surveyed in the Melotte 111 cluster by Beringia), it was shown to be a quaternary system, made up of two white dwarfs and two red dwarfs. Immediately interest was gathered, for the cluster was thought to be far too young for the type of white dwarf that had just been detected. Indeed, further analysis showed that the system was at least 7.43 billion years old, and so had to be an intruder into the Cluster. This fact lead to a closer examination of the worlds detected, and among the seemingly varied family of planets there was one, orbiting the C-D pair, which stood out in a most remarkable way. Spectroscopic analysis showed that, without a doubt, this world (BerMel 115 II) possessed an atmosphere with large amounts of free oxygen. While there were also large amounts of carbon dioxide present, the inescapable conclusion seemed to be that this world was host to widespread life.
The true nature of this life, however, would remain quite ambiguous for the four centuries. Many believed that the world was host to oceans filled with analogues to Earth's own oxygen-producing algae, perhaps even simple multicellular microbial creatures. Others, seeing the age of the planet, believed that there must be an advanced biosphere in place. A minority believed that it was the abode of intelligence of one sort or another. Whatever the case, public interest in the system waned quickly, but in an era that was just beginning to test the interstellar waters remotely, answers about BerMel 115 were forthcoming.

In 517 AT, much more advanced methods of astronomically observing BerMel 115 were employed. While many aspects of the system were to be examined in greater detail, the main focus was to be BerMel 115 II. It was discovered was that BerMel 115 II was a planet with a mature ecosystem, warmed by the light of twin red dwarf suns. Land masses were splotched with dark purple vegetation and the browns of deserts, while the oceans shone as a dark blue, verging on violet. Slow but steady fluctuations in oxygen, carbon dioxide, and even methane were observed, healthy indicators of the waxing and waning of vegetation as the planet followed its seasonal cycle. For several weeks exobiological circles were buzzing with the data being returned by the observations, but almost as soon as that data flow stopped in favor of other astronomical targets, the world and system were reclassified. A new name was given to the system to match with current astronomical naming trends, and the investigation was dropped in favor of other, newer discoveries.

The system of BerMel 115, now renamed Upali, was all but forgotten - for a time.


The Interstellar Era was, of course, aptly named. Humankind and their many branches were expanding into the local stellar neighborhood, with some attempts being made at even further colonial sites. Most of these disparate systems had begun to link up and form the First Federation, under the guidance of a number of advanced AIs. By the end of this early period, civilization had begun to brighten much of the local areas of the Orion Arm.

In 1200 AT, a new colonial effort set out from the Sol System. While SolSys itself had become an industrial, military, and intellectual center of the Federation, there were still plenty of elements within it that yearned to start over, to found a new society based on morals and designs of their own. One such group was the Hamiltonians, a society of baseline Humans (for the most part) who wished to establish a new society based on the premise of becoming fully and naturally integrated within the environment of a living world. Since there was no such world available in the Sol System, they began to search through records for other potential candidates, discovered in early centuries and not yet claimed (as far as could be known) by any group or culture.

Eventually, the Upali System was rediscovered, and the nature of Upali CD-II came once again into the light. From what was known, biologically the planet was very similar to Earth. Its biochemistry seemed to be quite favorable, and the ecology was evolved to the point where much of it was homogenous, thanks to a stable climate and a relatively low level of geological activity. It was a world, the Hamiltonians reasoned, which would easily allow for the integration of the Human element.

Thus it was that the colonial vessel Wanderer's Yearning departed the Sol System in 1200 AT. It was an older vessel, powered by amat-fusion drives and capable of reaching up to 0.2c (where as many of the newest such vessels could reach 0.5c), but most of its systems were quite recent. In fact, the method of colonist "storage" was considered quite experimental. Over 3,000 individuals would be transported while in a state of nanostasis, which was maintained at body temperature. This "warm" method was eventually considered to be quite reliable, and would be refined and used on up to the present day.

In 2608 AT, the Wanderer's Yearning arrived at the outskirts of the Upali System. Even as the command crew was being revived by the ship's AI, the vessel performed a close high speed pass of the twin red dwarf C-D components. Combined with the engines, this greatly reduced the vessel's speed, and trapped it within an orbit about the suns. Even so, the speed of the vessel had been so great that a further seven such flybys would be required before the vessel could easily enter into a wide orbit of their target, Upali CD-II. However, this was not to be an idle time.
During this period, both the AI and the reawakened crew would perform detailed observations of their adopted solar system. Probes would be sent out, themselves required to shed speed via braking maneuvers around the system's various planets. Within six months, and almost four solar flybys, a full series of landers had settled on Upali CD-II, while a system of satellites had been placed about the world. Other probes were examining the other planets, and a few had even been sent outward to the A-B components of the system and their attendant worlds.

When the Wanderer's Yearning finally did settle into a planetary orbit, nearly a year later, an entire automated support structure was in place, ready to receive the colonists. Surface installations were in place, an entire community cleared of native life, walled in, with the beginnings of Earth-based agriculture waiting for Human overseers. While not truly intended to help Humanity integrate itself into the native ecosystem, it was a necessary first step, many believed, in order to acclimate people to the planet. By the time the first landing of colonists occurred, the colony itself was more than ready for them. The world even had a name, chosen by the colony organizers back on Earth, centuries ago, and only now put into official use.

It was Year One on the world of Jannah.

A Brief History of the Interim

Collectively, the period between the arrival and settling of the colony, and the establishment of the modern Institute, is known simply as the Interim. Despite this apparent dismissal of a large portion of the planet's history, much happened during this period which was vitally important to the rise of the modern state of Jannah.

For the first several decades after the Arrival, the colonists maintained their movement towards becoming a natural, integrated part of the planet's native ecosystem. The original colonial site, whimsically named Hamilton City, had always been intended as a temporary settlement, a place for people to become acclimated to the world, to slowly divest themselves of their technological needs and move into a sort of natural "commune" with the highly bio-compatible world. While this ideal may seem remarkably naïve today, one must remember that when the colony was first conceived and planned, the Sol System was still smarting from the disastrous Technocalypse. A return to nature by many groups was believed to be the only way Humanity might survive.

Indeed, this philosophy did see the baseline form of Humans survive in many places, and while their numbers in the Orion Arm today may be in the hundreds of millions, that number is lost in the bucket of trillions of beings that Humanity has since evolve and transformed into. Nevertheless, on Jannah, the baseline form did indeed survive reasonably intact, primarily because of this back to nature concept.

However, as is so often the case, the idea of something is much easier to accept than the actual act. By the year 43 after landing, Hamilton City had become a true city, however, small, with the third generation of colonists firmly established in positions of governmental power. The original dream had by and large been forgotten. Some had attempted to live it, and indeed there were spots across Jannah where communities of people had established themselves, living on levels that ranged from simple agriculture to hunter-gatherers. The main population, however, retained as much of their technological knowledge as possible, and Hamilton City slowly expanded, while new communities were constantly being established. By 2800 AT, two hundred years after landing, a political body of small cities, the Federated Prolate, covered much of the eastern stretches of the home continent.

During the height of the Prolate, a series of universities were established, with a major center of learning in each city, and many satellite schools scattered throughout the various smaller communities that lay across the continent. Collectively known simply as the University, this educational body swiftly became influential in Prolate politics, as well as social and cultural circles. By approximately 3000 AT, the University was a true political party, and one that had controlled the government from time to time already. The original political party, however, the self effacing Proletariat, typically wrestled control back via various methods of aggressive campaigning and mud raking. Indeed, the Proletariat originally conceived of as a government by the people, was becoming increasingly aggressive and domineering in all aspects of Prolate life.

By 3300 AT, most aspects of life in the Prolate were under the direct control of the Proletariat. This control, often sold to the people on the grounds of keeping them safe from "the evils of dissenters and elements that would see society toppled", eventually fostered a deep resentment of the citizenry. Rival political parties, denouncing the policies put in place by the governmental leaders, were often disbanded and their officers placed in jails. Such control had even been extended to settlements and tribes surrounding the Prolate, descended from those colonists who adhered to the original ideals of the Hamiltonians. These peoples were rounded up and placed within camps "for their own protection", and forcibly educated and indoctrinated into accepting Proletariat ideals. In short, it was an extremely dark period during the Interim, and one that would bring about a near collapse of society.

The colony of Jannah had become quite insular under the regime of the Proletariat. The space program of the Prolate, which had never been advanced, had been all but cancelled. The government knew all too well what lay beyond their system. The Interstellar Era continued on unabated, and the Age of Establishment saw the expansion of colonies and settlements for a thousand light years in all directions. Humans continued to diversify, and they continued to look for real estate. There is no evidence that any aspect of interstellar life intruded upon the Upali system during the Interim, but historical records from this period acknowledge that there were listening posts on Jannah's moons, and the Proletariat was well aware that interstellar space was becoming the stomping grounds of Humans and their kin. A xenophobic attitude slowly settled on the government, and probes to other planets in the system were cancelled. Orbital stations were largely abandoned, and even automated satellite systems were allowed to degrade.

This attitude had a definite, measurable effect on Prolate society. The loss of communication networks, weather satellites, and even global positioning systems saw a drastic fall in the quality of life for the inhabitants of the cities. The University was the most vocal when it came to denouncing these failings and despite repeated sanctions and arrests by the government, the University system thrived. But the true turning point came in 3397 AT, when a wholly unexpected discovery was made on the outskirts of Amburgh, a frontier city of the Prolate, located in the middle plains of the continent.

In an excavation funded and overseen by the University, the ruins of a civilization native to Jannah had been discovered. News of the find spread throughout the Prolate like wildfire, and the popular imagination was equally fired. To the xenophobic government, however, it was an indication that their world now possessed something that the governments beyond their system would want. Despite the high unlikelihood of anyone beyond Upali learning of the ruins, the Proletariat began a campaign of information submersion. The University was censured and quieted, and news reports regarding the ruins were retracted and denied by the government. It was, in the end, a breaking point for the people of Jannah.

The end of the Interim was marked by major riots, demonstrations, and armed conflict. Governmental infighting arose, and by 3413 AT, the Proletariat had literally torn itself apart. The remains were shredded by the people. And, in the end, the pieces were picked up and carefully reformed by the University. Using the alien ruins as a rallying point, as well as their own long history of education and historical value, the University chartered a new government and took over control of the planet. The Hamilton Institute of Exopaleontology was founded in the year 3416 AT, some 808 years after the Arrival.

More on the Hamilton Institute here.

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Development Notes
Text by John M. Dollan
Initially published on 09 October 2001.