Alcyoneus: Kepler-440b

“Less likely to be a rocky planet” was the most the world press had to say about Kepler-440b when it was discovered alongside its ‘sexier’ friends Phaeton (Kepler-438b) and Hiraeth (Kepler-442b).

Like its discovery cohort, 440b is a super-Earth. This particular world is nearly twice as large as Earth with a year roughly 101 days long. It sits just inside the habitable zone for its orange dwarf star. Among its peers, the size of 440b suggests a planet more likely to be gaseous than rocky. At least, that’s the party line.

What we get with 440b is a bright forgettable bulb. It’s a disappointing depiction.


However, it is a depiction augmented slightly by the atmospheric music inspired by it, which I rather like:


The excitement over the new Earth-2’s has dampened the energy that should surround 440b. As I’ve suggested with other large exoplanets that may not be as firm as we’d like, it’s entirely possible that a world the size of 440b has moons with features as interesting as the Jovian satellites and Saturn’s moons. A large planet in the habitable zone implies satellites it may have will also be potentially habitable. Imagine Europa and Ganymede or Titan and Enceladus in the habitable zone, the possibility of liquid water and workable atmosphere increases.

I like the idea of this world being a sleeping giant. Falling back on Greek mythology, the battle between the Giants and Olympians called the Gigantomachy profoundly re-shaped the world. For this exoplanet, I’m looking to the story of the eldest Giant/Gigante


This Giant (pronounced ‘al-sahy-uh-nyoos‘) was routinely depicted as an enemy of Hercules. In one telling, when Hercules finally killed him, Alcyoneus’ seven daughters in their mourning were transformed into kingfisher birds.

Hercules sneaking up on Alcyoneus to murder him

Called the Alkyonides, these daughters (Alkippe, Anthe, Asteria, Chthonia, Drimo, Methone, Pallene, and Phosthonia) could serve as very good source material for the naming of any moons around Alyconeus. Three already are names of Saturnian moons: Methone, Anthe, and Pallene. It creates a line of continuity between our world and this new one.

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