Talk:Flannagan's Nebulea

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Uh - this article's name seems to be misspelt (Nebulea instead of Nebula), but I'm away from my sources and can't check. Given that this is one of the original, very old articles on Sarna and nobody wanted to change the name before, maybe it isn't a misspelling after all. Can someone please look it up for me? Frabby (talk) 06:02, 12 August 2017 (EDT)

It is spelt Flannagan's Nebulea in Handbook Major Periphery States. - Dark Jaguar (talk) 07:05, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
Thanks. I still think it's wrong. Will raise this (and a few other instances - New Gangemede, New Hati, Heiligendreuz among them) on the BT forum shortly, and try to get an official ruling or correction. Frabby (talk) 07:11, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
No problem. It might be a misspelling, I just assumed it was a cluster of smaller nebula. - Dark Jaguar (talk) 07:38, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
I absolutely think you're right about it being a mis-spelling. And I think it is endemic to Øystein's graphical database, as the maps are the only place that particular spelling occurs. To be honest, I think the employment of his maps are a bit haphazard, in any case. Doing extensive word searches in ISP3 yesterday, for example, the search would find the target world on map pages, but outside the margins of the maps themselves (making them actually impossible to see). This, to me, indicates a simple mis-spelling could easily have been duplicated as a function of 'cut-n-paste'.
A Google and Wikipedia search also finds no definition for 'nebulea', though it does appear to be in limited use as a Latin variation of 'nebula'. Also, the fourth hit on a Google search for define Nebulea does return a particular source I've found rather credible for the last 10 years or so. --Revanche (talk|contribs) 07:42, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
Sorry was going to write something and realised that this is a spelling mistake and should be "Nebulae" - Dark Jaguar (talk) 09:36, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
But even then the plural seems wrong, as it is only one "nebula". And while I'm at it, nebula seems wrong too, it should rather be called a cluster. The real question is, do we treat it as a single system? -- Frabby (talk) 09:38, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
I do not think it is a cluster. I think it is a nebula (Flannagan's), with at least one multi-star system located within it. Apologies for being pedantic, but there is a difference: open clusters (the smallest of the clusters) have hundreds of stars co-located in a (relatively) dense location, moving (as a group) chaotically, while a multiple star system is two or more stars that collectively orbit around one barycenter. So, if we take TPTB's naming conventions as they use them, and only add scientific definitions to provide detail, I see Jamestown, Ishtar, and Samantha as planets orbiting different stars, where the stars themselves are part of the same multiple star system (i.e., orbiting a common point). So, unless I'm mistaken, TPTB never mention a cluster for this particular astronomical location, right? If not, we should avoid any use of the term 'cluster' ourselves in regards to the location.
I'm building an argument in the next discussion section below as to what I think our decision should be. --Revanche (talk|contribs) 10:18, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
At the heart of the issue is that the authors of various BattleTech publications - especially in the FASA era - simply threw out names that sounded cool in an astrological context, without realizing or caring what they actually said. Another drastic misnomer example is the NGC 99382 system, purportedly an uninhabited periphery system. Only... "NGC" denotes entires in the w:New General Catalogue of Clusters and Galaxies, which doesn't contain individual systems. Or Luyten 68-28 - Willem Jacob Luyten is long since dead and his catalogue is completed, and there is no 68-28 entry. Though in this case it could be argued that it is a cover name as the real name, if it is a known and catalogued star, would give away the location of this "secret system". Oh well. Got carried away... I'll stop ranting now. Frabby (talk) 10:36, 12 August 2017 (EDT)

Just to throw this in here, but in the product where it is first ever mentioned in canon (The Periphery sourcebook) "Flannagan's Nebula" is consistently named thusly (p. 15, p. 17, where it is also explicitly spelled out that Megaris, Samantha, Renfield, Cyrton, and finally Ishtar are "Flanngan's Nebula worlds", pp. 33, 34, 78). The index on p. 155 lists it as "Flannagan's Nebula (star cluster)". It's not on the map on p. 156, the only map of the Concordat in the book; instead, it's marked as the Hyades Cluster there, with the usual double line ringing Samantha, Taurus, Ishtar and Jamestown. Frabby (talk) 15:59, 9 September 2017 (EDT)

HBS forum's discussion of Flannagan's Nebulea[edit]

To help resolve the above discussion as to what Flannagan's (mumble) actually is, and how the planets Taurus, Jamestown, Ishtar, and Samantha relate, I'm scrapping a discussion that was held on the HBS forums (on gruese's 3025 map thread). (I'm unsure how to link to specific posts with HBS' forum software, so the links will go to the specific page of the comment.)


Okay, well, that 3.5 hours I'll never get back. However, their consensus building was very informative for me and I hope to provide a summary here on which we can collaborate. Here's my initial statement, that I think should be turned into an essay, explaining Sarna's position on Hyades Cluster. That essay would then be wikilinked from each of the following articles:

I further propose the articles of Ishtar, Jamestown, and Samantha be merged with that of Taurus, as supported in the following (very rough) draft.--Revanche (talk|contribs) 14:02, 12 August 2017 (EDT)

The planets of Taurus, Ishtar, Jamestown, and Samantha have been represented on canon maps in a method that causes some discrepancies with canon written material. This essay will define Sarna's consensus policy on how to rectify the apparent issues.

The Issue[edit]

On the most updated maps provided by Catalyst Game Labs, the Taurian Concordat is often depicted with an astronomical feature known as Flannagan's Nebulea. This nebula is indicated by one external ring, with an internal seven circles generally representing common planets, one starred circle representing the national capital (Taurus) and one relatively smaller but still enlarged, unidentified ring encompassing or touching the circles. It is known that Flannagan's Nebulea exists within the region known as the Hyades Cluster, but the cluster is not specifically depicted on the maps. Additionally, there is source material that indicates hyperspace travel directly from origins outside of the four planets is either impossible or too challenging to have yet occurred, because of extensive debris fields made up of gas, dust and asteroidal material. Instead, one central waypoint must be arrived upon before direct travel to any of the 4 inhabited planets or the other 33 planetary bodies that co-exist with Taurus, Ishtar, Jamestown, and Samantha.

The issue is that if direct hyperspace travel is prevented between the outside universe and these four Taurian worlds, then how do the internal worlds interact and survive? The depicted distances between the edge of the internal ring and the four central worlds would preclude thrust-based travel, as the distances are measured in light-years. For example, by the scale provided, the most liberal measurement places the edge of the Ishtar circle 2 light-years from the edge of the internal ring; if measured from the (conventional) center of Ishtar's circle, the distance is 3 light-years. This is too far for a DropShip (or any other type of vessel) to travel on conventional thrust in acceptable periods of time. However, it is understood that the challenge and travel times associated with these four worlds are not insurmountable, as the Taurian Concordat is a major player in Inner Sphere relations, and not secluded away by light-years of sublight travel. The question is: how can the maps and written source material support reasonable travel periods?

The Resolution[edit]

In lieu of an outright description by canon products or a stated position by the CGL team, the consensus answer by Sarna to this conundrum starts with rationally identifying the features indicated within the Flannagan's Nebulea portion of the maps and examining their relationships, and then providing a hypothesis that would best enable a solution to the time-distance-challenge problem associated with these four worlds.

The Hyades Cluster and Flannagan's Nebulea[edit]

In 2252, 25 ships of the Calderon Expedition approached the edge of the Hyades Cluster. What was to be referred to as the Hyades Zone (an undefined and barely explained designation) was encompassed by a nebula dense with dust and gas; within that zone was also an immense asteroid field around seven hundred million kilometers (or about 4.7 astronomical units) wide, obscured by the nebula (named Flannagan's Nebula, after the chief navigator). In the 145 years of hyperdrive travel, no exploration had returned from this region, providing no data whatsoever as to the reason for the failures. After loosing two Aquilla class transport JumpShips in penetrating this debris field, the Calderon fleet attributed the previous exploratory failures to this significant and uncharted challenge.[1]

Having charted a passage through the debris field, the remaining ships found "eight star systems linked within each other's gravitational fields," with 37 associated planetary bodies. Several of these bodies were charted as being traded back and fourth by the otherwise-balanced orbits of this multiple star system. Ten of the remaining bodies, "at the center of Flannagan's Nebula", were rated as exemplary candidates for colonization.[1]

Explanation: This description of the initial foray into the internal region by the Calderon Expedition introduces three different named features: the Hyades Cluster, Flannagan's Nebula, and the Hyades Zone. The cluster is a region of several hundred stars[2] (co-located in a relatively dense location, moving chaotically as a group amongst each other), is unidentified on (known) canon maps. However, the presence of Flannagan's Nebula within it is clear from the above material, and the nebula is indicated on more recent maps of the Taurian Concordat as the external ring. The Hyades Zone is only mentioned once more (and never graphically depicted), as a site of the (future developed) Concordat's territory, outside of which many of the realm's major industrial centers resided.[3] This supports the idea of the 'zone' being a designation for a governmental region, rather than as an area defined by astronomical features.

Two additional statements in this narrative provide some interesting information. The description of the "massive asteroid field, nearly seven hundred million kilometers wide"[1] plays an important part in explaining why the previous explorations failed and Samantha Calderon chose to settle in the center of the nebula: the colony would not only be obscured by Flannagan's Nebula, but also protected by the asteroid field. However, while an asteroid field at the equivalent of Jupiter's least distance from Sol is reasonable, having eight stars with 10 "ideal" planets (for colonization) in that same small space is not possible. The discovery of "eight star systems linked within each other's gravitational fields" describes very well a multiple star system, a coupling of various stars orbiting either each other or a center point, called a barycenter. Most star systems are multiples, and most multiples are trinary (3 stars). Septenary (7 stars) systems are not unheard of either, so the concept of an 8-star system is believable. However, such a system existing within the orbit of Jupiter is not. The Special Asteroid Support Force (SASF) is described as being "deployed on zero-G assault platforms stationed throughout the Hyades Cluster's vast asteroid field".[4] The reference to the cluster suggests the debris field may be far more massive than the initial size estimate.

Sarna takes the perspective that the described asteroid field is wrong only in its stated dimensions. However, as a massive and dense field that encompasses the stated 8-star system, an average thickness of 4.9 AUs would be much more believable. Therefore, the presumption is that the diameters of both the Taurian system and its protective debris field are presently uncited, and the debris field was "nearly seven hundred million kilometers thick" at the point the Calderon expedition entered.

The Four Outer Planets[edit]
Flannagan's Nebulea Neighbors1.png

Within the depiction of Flannagan's Nebula's ring are four circles straddling the internal ring, and four within it. The former represent the planets of Ina, Megaris, Menion, and Parian, while the latter include Taurus (the Taurian Concordat capital), Ishtar, Jamestown, and Samantha. As the latter four are known to be located within the debris field, the four line-straddlers can be positively identified as existing outside it. Clockwise, from the coreward side of the nebula, Ina and Megaris appear to exist in the dusty and gassy void of the nebula completely, Menion appears to be right outside the terminus for the debris field, and Parian is located on the external edge of the nebula itself. These are defined here to point out the perspective Sarna has that the inner ring represents the debris field around the four inner planets.

The Four Inner Planets and the Debris Field[edit]

Once a vessel transits past the most dense portion of the debris field surrounding the Taurus system, it has entered a multiple 8-star system, comprised of 37 planetary bodies in an eccentric but apparently stable series of orbits. A number of the planetary bodies are known to switch stars at various points in their individual transits, but 10 of the remaining ones are considered not only stable but "ideal" for human habitation. These are located "at the center of Flannagan's Nebula".[1]

An additional fact about the debris field is that it is not nearly-insurmountably thick at all areas of coverage. The asteroids "can be avoided by staying above the ecliptic until one reaches Taurus’s clear gap". Instead, the Taurians rely on aerospace defenses so numerous they should not be ignored. They are based and supported from within the asteroid belt, which makes strike attempts navigationally hazardous. It is considered to be a well-known myth that top-secret entrances are required to enter the system.[2]

As depicted on the maps, it would appear Taurus, Ishtar, Jamestown, and Samantha have an average distance of about 5 light-years between each of them. However, as they are confirmed to be part of a multiple star system, this is unlikely and improbable. Real-world stars in a multiple star system usually orbit within fractions of a light-year of each other, and that must hold true for the Taurian system, if some of the planetary bodies "were shunted back and forth among the mutual gravitation of competing stars."[1]

Sarna instead takes the perspective that the inner region is defined as the debris field (the extensive asteroid field that is "nearly seven hundred million kilometers thick" at the point the Calderon expedition entered) and depicted by the internal ring within the image of the Flannagan Nebula. Additionally, the internal image is representational, rather than scaled (like the remaining portion of the map and other maps). This would account for the shorter distances between the internal worlds of the Concordat. The multiple star system would therefore be centered within the geographical center of the Flannigan Nebula,[1] but depicted on an unknown (but much larger scale), in order to show the relative positions of the individual planets within the larger multiple star system. Each of the four planets orbit their own star,[5][6][7][2] which-in turn-orbit a common barycenter.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Periphery, p. 15, "Calderon Expedition"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Masters and Minions: The StarCorps Dossiers, p. 190, "Key Worlds of the Taurian Concordat"
  3. The Periphery, p. 83, "Strengths and Weaknesses"
  4. Field Manual: Periphery, p. 53, "Special Forces"
  5. The Periphery (sourcebook), p. 86, "Ishtar Planet Profile"
  6. Objectives: Periphery, p. 6, "Jamestown"
  7. Objectives: Periphery, p. 12, "Samantha"

I'm away from home and can't check ATM, but from what I remember from some research I was doing that in the original periphery sourcebook there's a mention in the section on the founding of the Taurian Concordat - compared to the Taurian Holdfast - where it discusses planets colonized by the original expedition and planets contacted, and it makes reference to some of them by name as being outside the nebula. I remember it gave me this because it talked about some of them being far from Taurus, when maps put them closer than other systems mentioned in the same paragraph. BrokenMnemonic (talk) 14:33, 12 August 2017 (EDT)
Thanks, BM. I'm going to build this first draft based on the above discussions and then go back and cite them, including with your guidance here.--Revanche (talk|contribs) 15:03, 12 August 2017 (EDT)