The fact that me and all the planets in my reign materialized out of dust and gas is forever beyond my imagination.
Living in the center of my system, I watch with pride as the planets revolve around me, each of them varying in sizes and speeds, yet unified by my gravity. I nourish them with my heat and light, and they in turn try their best to support life on their surfaces.
Few billion years ago, we were nothing but a cloud of gas and dust.
ESO/Sergey Stepanenko. Close-up of the drama of star formation. 2011. eso.org. 28 Jan. 2018.
We had hung disoriented in the inner arms of the Milky Way, as much out of boredom as a lack of purpose. A shockwave from a nearby supernova had managed to reach us, triggering our formation. I’d like to think we got lucky, because not all dust clouds that are hit by shockwaves form planets, and not all planets that are formed have the right conditions to harbor life. But lucky is not the term used around here, where everything happens for a good reason. And since my system is ideal for life to exist, I guess my reason for living would be to sprout life in any or all of these planets.
Looking at these planets, one might easily deduce that they were always there, spinning about their axes and revolving around me. None of the pressure, the heat, the torture they had to go through to become complete planets shows on their profiles. Yet, they had remained as lumps of molten rocks for a long, long time after their formation. The gas cloud had squeezed, and it had squeezed hard enough for the heat to remain intact within each of their bodies. They had been the prime target for millions of wandering asteroids and had helplessly suffered until they learnt to use their hot cores to produce magnetic fields to hold their atmosphere in place, which in turn burnt all the incoming meteors before they had a chance to mar their surface. It had taken millions of years for them to cool off the heat they suffered and though the molten lava trapped underneath their surfaces erupts every once in a while, things had taken a turn for the better.
I spin in the center, the heat and pressure never allowing me a rocky form. I survive on the perfect balance of fusion and gravitational collapse. The moment either one takes over the other, I’m doomed. Since I have no more say in the matter now that I did four billion years ago, I leave them to their struggle for superiority to focus on my planets. Over the years, their heavier elements have descended to their cores while the lighter ones stayed on top, with a front row ticket to view the entire solar system, or so I’d like to think. They’re also the ones to be first hit by a random asteroid. Everything has its ups and down, I suppose.
The lightest of elements had been pushed to far ends of the system where they formed gas giants. Rocks that hadn’t clumped with others had hovered aimlessly and were banished to the system’s boundaries. There they had settled into loose orbits, watched the system mournfully and never missed the chance to enter it using a visiting star’s gravity.
I can see that the heat and light I used to nourish my system since its birth had been put to good use. Though I had to scrape the atmosphere off poor Mercury, the tiny planet still revolves energetically with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Far off, the gas giants have their own moons, their own little kingdom to protect from the dangers of the Universe. I worry for them. Little of my heat reaches them and with no solid core to rely on, they have no choice but to use their gravity to keep their moons warm if they have any chance of harboring life.
And then there’s Earth.
nd.twitter.com. 28 Jan. 2018.
Perfectly placed for liquid water to exist on it. Like its neighbors, Earth shows none of the agony it went through. But there are scars. Scars, when looked at hard enough, revealed about its hellish past. One such scar is the Moon.
I am yet to forget how an asteroid had flung itself onto Earth, tilting the planet on its axis and taking along with it a part of Earth. But Earth’s gravity had saved the asteroid and part of itself from wandering into space. It encircled the planet, all the debris gradually forming a steady body. It has remained there ever since, watching over the planet, taking an asteroid hit many a time so that Earth remains safe.
And when I saw the first forms of life grace the planet, I knew I had served my purpose.