Ion Disturbances can form in the deep void of space. These are areas of high-speed charged particles bounded by a natural warp shell that enables them to travel at faster-than-light speeds. The voltage within normal Ion Disturbance is constant throughout, but Cloudy Ion Disturbances exist where the voltage can change within the Ion Disturbance.
There are five classes of Ion Disturbance. This class is determined by the voltage of the Ion Disturbance.
It should be noted that Class-4 and Class-5 Ion Disturbances may also be referred to as Ion Storms.
Ion Disturbances usually move at Warp 6. Sometimes, a Class-5 Ion Storm will accelerate to a higher speed. Also, sometimes a weakening Ion Disturbance will decelerate to a lower speed. These speed changes are rare and unpredictable.
Ion Disturbances will not harm planets, due to their high mass (usually in the range of 3-10 x 10 19 kilotons). In addition, even the lighter planetoids that are found in debris disks are immune (mass usually in the range of 10 9 to 10 12 kilotons). Only the relatively light starships (total mass up to 4x10 3 kilotons) are effected by Ion Disturbances, and then, normally only in a Class-4 or Class-5 Ion Disturbance.
Ion Disturbances have the following effects on starships:
There are two factors that can prevent a ship from being destroyed in an Ion Storm: the mass of the ship and the experience level of the crew. Crews can gain experience by traveling through space and through combat with enemy starships. Alchemy ships gain experience by using the onboard alchemy machinery. Crew experience is also gained by flying through an Ion Storm.
The Weapon Design Engineers for the Colonies, seeking to harness the energies of Ion Disturbances, designed and created the TANTRUM Device , which is installed in the Tantrum Liner.
There are two different kinds of Ion Disturbance, depending on the game configuration settings. The Classic Ion Disturbance is a single circle with the same energy level throughout. There are also Cloudy Ion Disturbances, which function in a more complex manner.
A Cloudy Ion Disturbance consists of several circular areas (up to ten), each with a different center, radius and center voltage. The voltage at any point within an area is proportional to the distance to the center, with a voltage of 0 at the edge. The voltage at any one point in the Ion Disturbance is the sum of the voltages of the overlapping circular areas.
When a Cloudy Ion Disturbance encounters a Star Cluster or a Nebula, the circular areas are individually destroyed.
Ion Disturbances have two phases:
The Ion Disturbance's voltage and speed will slowly and sporadically increase as the diameter of the Ion Disturbance decreases.
The Ion Disturbance's voltage and speed decrease as the diameter of the Ion Disturbance increases.
Sometimes a weakening Ion Disturbance will suddenly increase in size while losing much of its speed and energy. This effect is commonly known as pancaking.
If two or more Ion Disturbances collide, they will merge into a single Ion Disturbance. This will, in all likelihood, have a power slightly lower than the sum of the voltages of the initial Ion Disturbances, and the new heading will be determined by the headings of the initial Ion Disturbances. Some Ion Disturbances may appear to behave in an irregular fashion, but this is usually caused by them merging with a second, newly formed Ion Disturbance that had no time to exist on its own before it was absorbed.
In addition, when an Ion Disturbance initially encounters a Nebula or a Star Cluster, it is immediately absorbed. Planets, Debris Disks and Starships (except those with a TANTRUM device) have no effect on Ion Disturbances.
The heading of an Ion Disturbance can not otherwise change more than 20 degrees per turn.
The maximum number of Ion Disturbances in any cluster is normally four, but it can be anywhere from zero to six in a custom game. Weak Ion Disturbances may fade out of existence, in which case they are immediately replaced. The same holds true for any Ion Disturbances whose center passes outside the entire cluster map or is destroyed.
The best available detailed explanation of Ion Disturbances at Planets.nu can be found in this off-site document written by Stefan: http://www.phost.de/~stefan/ion.html