Feeds

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

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE
But they'd lose a deathmatch against the coming Humvee-sized, armoured Arctic ones
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company
Ten points of stuff out of a five pound bag
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?