Feeds

Boffins tell ALIEN twin-sunned planets: You're adopted

Actually spawned by OTHER parent stars 'far, far away'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Whether you're talking about Magrathea, Tattooine or Gallifrey, Earth's favourite alien life-forms frequently come from planets with two suns. But the likelihood is that those planets actually ended up orbiting two stars after being made somewhere else entirely.

An artist's conception of Kepler-34b which orbits a double-star system

Boffins have often wondered just how planets can be formed in orbit around two stars since the gravitational pull from the suns should tear the worlds apart or grind them down in destructive collisions with other bits of space debris.

A new study from the University of Bristol suggests that so-called circumbinary planets actually form far away from these extreme environments and then migrate through space to their eventual orbits.

The astroboffins used computer simulations of early planet formation to figure out the effects of gravity and collisions on the material needed to build new worlds. The simulations showed that most existing circumbinary planets, like Kepler-34(AB)b, couldn't have been made where they are now.

"Our simulations show that the circumbinary disk is a hostile environment even for large, gravitationally strong objects. Taking into account data on collisions as well as the physical growth rate of planets, we found that Kepler 34(AB)b would have struggled to grow where we find it now," said Dr Zoe Leinhardt in a statement.

The only known planet that might have been formed around its two suns is Kepler-47(AB)c, which is further from its binary stars than any other observed two-sun worlds.

"Circumbinary planets have captured the imagination of many science-fiction writers and film-makers - our research shows just how remarkable such planets are," said lead author Stefan Lines.

"Understanding more about where they form will assist future exoplanet discovery missions in the hunt for Earth-like planets in binary star systems."

The full study, "Forming circumbinary planets: N-body simulations of Kepler-34", was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.