Near the center of the galaxy, there is a planet orbiting around a red dwarf. The star’s perpetual eruptions have swept away the oceans and thinned the planet’s atmosphere over eons. There now only exists a black sphere of lava and basaltic rock, which we know as Ahamar.

Slightly larger than Earth, Ahamar takes its name from the bastardization of the Arabic term “Ahmar har”, meaning “Red hot” or “Boiling”.

Its surface is black due to the lava matrix, parched by the eons of solar eruptions received. Temperatures at the equator can climb to 75°C; a very slow rotation, due to the proximity to the star, condemns the two faces to a slow day-night cycle. This is both a bane and a boon for the extremophile life that has developed on this defiant oasis of life. While one face is exposed to the scorching star and its UV radiation, the other is in the freezing darkness of space. The planetary rotation means that the day and night cycle lasts 45 hours each. What little non-rainwater there is on the planet comes from underground faults and resurgences, as well as from small lakes in the depths of the immense depressions present between the many spires that were once volcanic islands.

One may ask how does it rain if the two planetary hemispheres alternately boil and freeze? On such a planet, clouds form in the interchange zones between day and night, where droplets of atmospheric water from the boiling zone are transported by planetary rotation toward the cold zone. The progressive decrease in temperatures causes them to aggregate into cloud formations, sometimes causing fine drizzle and, rarely, thunderstorms that manage to form small temporary lakes.

These water bodies are absorbed by the ground before reaching the boiling zone. Most of the absorbed water will seep into underground faults, while that trapped more superficially will evaporate over time as the face passes through the boiling zone, becoming atmospheric droplets that will begin this precarious water cycle again.

There is another constant in this world: radiation. Being close to the center of the galaxy, and therefore an overall unstable area, it is substantially bombarded by continuous radiation. These are not harmful to local life forms, and the main autotrophic life forms (bacteria, extremophilic molds, and extremophilic mucous molds) are, in fact, radiotrophic, i.e. they absorb radiation to produce nutritional carbon compounds.

The discovery of life on Ahamar occurred rather coincidentally. An unexpected engine failure forced a small exploration ship passing by on a tour of the galactic center to land on the planet for repairs. Once down on the surface, the explorers were surprised to discover that, in the colder shades many… strange entities similar to tendrils came out of the ground and opened like flowers releasing strange fumes. These were later discovered to be spores.          It was realized this bloom had been triggered by the temperature of the engine’s refrigeration gas, released into the surroundings to make repairs possible.

Although the planet was discovered during the first exploration missions of the inner galaxy, the costs necessary to search for possible life forms on its surface were high for the time, and the possibility of finding life was considered too low to afford the risk. In time the prospect of life on Ahamar was totally forgotten, as was the planet, bound as one of the many death worlds revolving around the old stars.

Indeed, one might ask what made the development of life possible in such a world even possible.

There are many hypotheses, but the most convincing one is that life evolved when the star was still young and that the life we ​​find now on the planet is what remains of that diversity. Many fossils attest to this, however, these, even the unicellular ones, do not go back further than a hundred million years… This probably means that life evolved when this star must have already transformed into an ‘unstable red dwarf.

A study into the genome of Ahamar life forms show that they evolved since the bacterial stages of life to resist radiation, and are more similar in structure to monohelical genomes like RNA rather than bihelical genomes like DNA.

This simplicity, mixed with resistance to radiation and the mutations that these can cause, has meant that life on the planet is predisposed to evolve rapidly in brief geological instants.

This entry was a collab between Zarekay56 and CrisPing. 

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