The codex screenshot for the The Dark Wheel - Which system is it?

Hi all,

tldr; I didn't find it yet, but I think my logic is solid, and I need your help to find the exact system. Also, here's an Imgur gallery of this post.

In the codex, I noticed there's a screenshot that goes with "The Dark Wheel", which appears to be a real station or ship orbiting a real star in-game. To me, this feels like a concrete hint as to the whereabouts of The Dark Wheel. It's not a vague "rumour", it's a real in-game screenshot, so I decided to try to find this station.

About a month ago, someone posted a screenshot of a penal ship, and I noticed it had rotating rings on the back, sorta like ship in the Dark Wheel codex screenshot. From the wiki, I got the list of penal ships, and looked through all of them on eddb.io, to try to find one that appeared to fulfill the following criteria I deduced from the screenshot:
- Must be orbiting a planet very close to a star
- Star must be a red-looking class (?)
- The system must have a penal colony ship in it.

Lo and behold, only one system matched these criteria, and googling it turned up only two discussing mentioning it in passing: Stuelou AT-J c25-24

This system has a couple other interesting properties: It's right on the way to Colonia, about 2/3rds of the way there. It shows a zero population, but has a penal ship. It's immediately adjacent to an inhabited system, Gandharvi. As a bonus, it also has an unnamed gas giant with 8 moons.

So I high-tailed it out there, made it to Penal Colony Omicron, and took some screenshots for comparison. I scanned the 8th moon, found nothing interesting, and scanned the planet beside the ship (there's some geological sites but I didn't find any surprises. I didn't search all of them though.)

I made a gallery for your comparison here: https://imgur.com/gallery/iQ0RFpQ

Conclusion: This is not the system in the screenshot, but it's the right idea.

By comparing the codex screenshot and my screenshots of Penal Ship Omicron, I can conclude the following:
1) The star we're looking for needs to be much redder than the K-type star in this sector. What's a redder star class?
2) The relative scale of the planet and star are wrong. Either the planet needs to be much smaller, or the star must be much larger than the ones I found in this sector. (The planet is much smaller in the codex screenshot than the ones in mine, meaning either the distances are off, or the relative scale of the two is different. I don't believe the orbits of the planets and station would change that much.)
3) The penal colony ship is the wrong type of ship. So what type of ship matches the codex screenshot?

Any feedback on these points would be greatly appreciated! Let's try to keep this thread on-topic and focus on concrete evidence as much as possible.

Thanks,
CMDR Hax Murderer
 
My thoughts. 1. You should look at M-class giant or more. 2. It may be not a ship but a station. There are some variables of Orbis starport with two rings (for example Lehtonen Hub in Ra system). And as an example of system look at Tejat Posterior - M-class giant star and A1 planet on close orbit. I think may be two variables: M-class dwarf and very-very close planet orbit and M-class giant and close planet orbit. I prefer think there is giant one on that station image.
 
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Re: your second point - The picture may have been taken using the zoom function, increasing the apparent size and closeness of the star.
Re: your third point - It looks like an Orbis station to me. Many of them have the large front ring, a second smaller ring, and other suitable pods and bits and pieces that match the screenshot.

Assuming the station to be secret and stealthy, I would not expect it to have an entry in any of the online databases yet.
 
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Re: your second point - The picture may have been taken using the zoom function, increasing the apparent size and closeness of the star.
Re: your third point - It looks like an Orbis station to me. Many of them have the large front ring, a second smaller ring, and other suitable pods and bits and pieces that match the screenshot.

Assuming the station to be secret and stealthy, I would not expect it to have an entry in any of the online databases yet.
I second this completely.

M class, II or III giant star with a planet at a ~700 ls distance would yield similar results.

 
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Hi. It is special type of Orbis starport from rear view (it is key to illusion with almost same rings size). I took these pictures yesterday.



It is this station in Aulin system (it has very probably nothing to do with Dark Wheel just the same station variant).
 
Firstly - well done everyone! I think we're on the right track.

I've also been doing some work with the inferences we can make from the codex information. I believe it is possible to solve the location via a process of deductive computation, if certain assumptions are correct.

To start with, I constructed a complete database of the entirety of known space, based on EDSM's publicly available data sets (their site - whilst excellent - does not have the kind of sophisticated search functionality need to support this investigation). This is several hundred GB in size and some of the queries can take hours to complete, but it allows all known systems to be incorporated into the search. It also improved my SQL abilities quite a bit - it doesn't surprise me nobody has done this before, it was quite challenging! Who knows, maybe it will be handy when it comes to the next target.

Firstly, clarifying certain assumptions I made about the search:

Solid assumptions:
  • The station orbits the eighth moon of a gas giant.
  • The station is an Orbis variant, presumably "dark", and the codex view is taken from the station's rear.
  • The station is not openly listed in any database or system view, otherwise it would have been found rapidly.
  • The system containing the station is discovered and listed in databases, as all systems anywhere near the bubble have been scanned.
  • Eighth moons are all named " name> h" - a named eighth moon is possible but would be so obvious it is hard to believe a clandestine organisation would put their base by it.
Speculative assumptions:
  • The location is in or near the bubble, due to the organisation being ancient and it presumably having being placed there years ago when jump ranges were much shorter (both in lore and game history).
  • It can be visited/found without special conditions being necessary (although I took the precaution of ranking up to allied with Dark Wheel faction and have an elite ranking, just in case).
  • The Shinrarta Dezhra Dark Wheel faction is irrelevant to our search, and since its special missions no longer spawn and never went anywhere can be factored out.
Limitations:
  • It is not possible to calculate the distance between a body and a non-primary star using the available data. Only the distance to arrival from the primary star is available. This imposes certain limitations on the kind of queries which are possible.
  • It is difficult to establish precise orbital relationships and distances within a system due to the structure of the data available. Generally I have settled for simple presence instead of confirming orbits, although this is possible with additional scripting.
All this is underpinned by the assumption that the station is in game, the codex information is accurate, and the shot is intended to be taken at face value (so it does not depict some kind of unusual orbital conjunction it would be impossible to search for).

Now we have just two areas of ambiguity in the search:

The star pictured behind the station:
  • It is red with orange highlights - could potentially be M, C, S or T.
  • Must be significantly larger than 1 solar mass - gas giants do not occur close to their parent stars (I confirmed this with the database) and from actually visiting candidate systems it was clear only big stars would allow this kind of shot unless the planets were right on top of them. Red dwarf stars were pinpricks in the sky from these gas giants.
  • It is very red - from visiting red giant candidates most were far too orange/yellow. Possibly it may need to have a very low surface temperature for it to be this red, although too low and such stars no longer have fiery orange highlights. I'm not sure if the stellar type affects the colour in addition to temperature.
The body pictured between the station and the star - there are seemingly two possibilities for it:
  1. The body in front of the star is the parent gas giant - confirming it is ringless.
  2. The body in front of the star is the moon being orbited - in which case it is at least ringless and spherical.
I have been able to use both conditions as search parameters although they are mutually exclusive so it is not as helpful as it might be. There are 1.5 million ringless gas giants of 4 million known in total so even that is of some help. Had the station been facing the viewer it might have implied a binary pair of moons, which would have been fairly helpful. All we have is a black sphere though, so I'm not sure this can be taken much further.

So far I have been through a sample of the candidates (some good ones I visited first included 29 Piscium, 48 G. Carinae, 4 Cassiopeiae and 6 Mu Coronae Borealis) and found nothing of note, except a biological site on a neighbouring binary moon. My method is to scan and circle the moon, and hope for the best.

I think at this point all we have to work with is the presence of the eighth moon of a gas giant (there are ~16,345 of these within 1000ly of Sol) and a big red star in the target system (there are only ~50 red giants and exotics within 1000ly of Sol which qualify - the ones I sampled all being clearly unsuitable - versus ~4,000 qualifying common reds). Being able to precisely identify the stellar type and characteristics determining its colour, along with its likely size and distance seem to be the only way of restricting the scope of our search effectively at this point. However, the good news is those characteristics are quite easy to filter candidate systems by.

So, my suggested main avenue of inquiry would be what stellar characteristics produce the colouration and perspective in the shot.

I will of course share any significant findings I make in the mean time.
 
Great summary Rexus. Just note to that Orbis starport variant. I used word special because I had problem find the similar starport variant. The most common variants have solar panels and different rear/engines part. I think this is oldest variant of Orbis starport because it was used in "The Orbis Starport" Trailer (2014 https://pressakey.com/videodetail,15893,1716,Elite-Dangerous-The-Orbis-Starport-Trailer,.html). There is probably many starports of this variant and I had just no luck see them more often. So it was not good use of word "special" from me sorry :)

Now that star behind starport. It is so much red. I tried to apply color filters to the image from Codex but it looks the image is not manipulated and there is really so much red light. I can't find M star with such red light too - it is always too much yellow/orange. Maybe some nebula (planetary?) adding red light or another near star (Brown dwarf type L).

I used lights ("bulbs") on rear part of the starport as reference to do color shift. But there is still some source of strong red light - I trust from behind camera or environment (nebula).
 
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T Taury looks like much red. But will it be big enough for such proportions?

Or maybe C-class hypergiant...
 
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I was wrong with several things. There is no need for another red light source - M star can do it with very low luminosity. And I stopped think it is giant or even supergiant. I did this comparison of several M stars with different luminosity. I trust now we are looking for star type M with luminosity VI (sub-dwarf).



P.S. I love this game especially for such details as this - how well are such details as luminosity class implemented.
 
I was wrong with several things. There is no need for another red light source - M star can do it with very low luminosity. And I stopped think it is giant or even supergiant. I did this comparison of several M stars with different luminosity. I trust now we are looking for star type M with luminosity VI (sub-dwarf).



P.S. I love this game especially for such details as this - how well are such details as luminosity class implemented.
But would it possibly host a GG with 8<# moons at a close distance?
 
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MrMarkus, that is certainly helpful! I did some further research too, it supports this - but there are some wrinkles.

Firstly, in my research I found an M type star with a surface temperature of about 2000K seems to match the screenshot. They don't go much lower. Other star types at lower temperatures than this tend to look like brown dwarf types with a dull surface, and don't match the screenshot. Though to be honest I'm not too clear on how temperature, luminosity and type affect the look of the star.

As we've noted, a star of the size in the shot must be either a giant or extremely close. I started by restricting the search to red type "big stars" with a stellar radius of over 1 sol, with an eighth moon in the same system. There are only 17 of these within 1000ly of Sol! However, none of them have low temperatures and most have otherwise unsuitable system configurations. There are 48 within 5000ly of Sol, although again hardly any have suitable configurations or temperatures.

There is nothing to stop us expanding the "big star" search outwards, but I have trouble with the idea of a clandestine organisation with ties through human space having a centuries old HQ in a random system in the middle of nowhere, both from a lore perspective and a Frontier design perspective (how would anyone ever be expected to find this?).

On the other hand, there are the "close star" candidates. There are 1000+ low temperature (1500-2250K) red stars in systems with eight moons within 1000ly of Sol. I sorted by distance to arrival and visited the very closest - Swoilz PK-Z b6-8, with a moon 260ls from the star - and checked from the moon. The star was a tiny ball in the distance, so no luck. It basically confirms that gas giants with this many moons cannot form that close to the star, and that at these distances the primary star will not match the screenshot unless it is a giant.

So, if we continue with the "close star" search - the only search which can yield a Dark Wheel anywhere near the space inhabited at game launch it seems - the star most likely cannot be a primary and must be in some kind of unusual system configuration where it gets close to the moon some other way. Possibly a red dwarf orbiting a larger star along with a gas giant, something along these lines.
 
I was playing with filters to better view that planet between the station and star. I found no hidden clue - strong light from star and dark side of the planet removed almost all. I don't know if this can be useful. Posting this just for the record.
 
If we join some wild assumptions together:

1st assumption is that the DW station is in the bubble or near to it.
2nd assumption is that the station is out of old scanner range or else it would be found by now

Then it seems entirely likely that the star in the picture is a companion star in a system a long way from its primary.

Not sure EDSM can help us with finding secondary stars as it stands.

YB
 
looking at this chart:

https://i.imgur.com/09KudaK.png

is it possible its an Ae/Be Herbig star - with the large flare disc? Alternatively a smaller T-Tauri, which are often that sort of red colour, but usually too small for the shot.

One thing to bear in mind when judging size of objects and relative distance is that the field of view of the image makes a difference - if the field is a narrow angle then objects look closer than they actual are. A crop in on a screen shot would have the same effect of compressing the perspective.

YB
 
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If we
Then it seems entirely likely that the star in the picture is a companion star in a system a long way from its primary.

YB
I’d not jump into that conclusion so quickly. As stated in the codex, the station operates at a minimum power consumption, maybe it’s only discoverable at a very close distance or if you know where it is. Like we do with the black box missions.
 
Yelboc, the nearest Herbig star with an eighth moon in the system was thousands of ly from Sol as I recall. They are really uncommon, but more problematically I don't think they come in low enough temperatures to go red. The flare matches up somewhat though.
T Tauri seemed not to go much above 0.8 solar radii at the most... so the moon would need to be really quite close. As far as I can tell they never get close enough with primary stars.
 
Which brings up the question of how good the FSS is at discovering everything in a system. Do we know its limitations yet? How can they be tested?

YB
 
We believe it to uncover all bodies... I think that is pretty much undisputed.

The issue might be over how it uncovers a hidden station. The assumption I made was that it would unveil the station in close proximity, but nobody really knows when it comes to a legendary station rather than the usual procgen ones. Yesterday I inspected a candidate moon where it unveiled an orbital medical installation after the moon was probed, which seems like a possible mechanism as well. However, the Dark Wheel has supposedly been in place since the game launched, so it must have been accessible prior to the introduction of this method.

I have been unable to find any M class dwarf which could be near enough to a moon to duplicate the shot. If it is the primary star it would need to be less than 100ls from the star, which is impossible for a gas giant with 8 moons it seems. If it is non-primary it needs an unusual system configuration - the star orbiting the primary very close to a gas giant, the star or gas giant having an elliptical orbit which takes it close to the moon, the star actually orbiting the gas giant, etc.

Also at the suggestion of MrMarkus, I was experimenting with searches based on moon surface temperature (assumption being that if the shot is accurate the moon must be hot) and whilst this seriously cuts down the candidates - I was initially somewhat hopeful about Praecipua - there are no actual examples of the right kind of star in position near a moon present so far. I also took a look at moons which were non-icy, since with a star so close it should be heated... the heating mechanism seems to work on moons, but it hasn't yielded any useful candidates. We can at least pretty much discount moons with a 0K temperature as they should not be able to get close to a star without heating (assuming an occasional transit from an elliptical orbit heats the moon).

At this point I think we might have to revisit the assumptions about star type, and look for a bigger star with the right colouration.
 
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