Feeds

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

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

Seven Steps to Software Security

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.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.