Planets Found In Curious Dance of Death!

August 1, 2010 at 7:23 PM (Uncategorized)

I found myself caught within some more studies of the universe.  An online article displayed by msnbc and presented information about a recent outer space discovery.  Information is given about recently identified planets that are in very close orbits with a dying star.

At a location that is estimated to be 223 light years away from our Earth, astronomers have discovered two planets that are orbiting the star identified as HD200964.  These scientists work at California Institute of Technology.  There, studies are continuing, allowing for the discovery and research of planets, stars, and other objects within outer space that exist beyond our solar system

HD200964 is being called a dying star.  Currently, it is designated as a subgiant.  It will expand into a red giant before it goes supernova, possibly ending with the formation of a black hole.  The star is demanding attention because of the two planets that are orbiting it.  Both of the planets are gas giants.  They are locked within an orbit around the dying star that is unusually close.

The orbital distance of these gas giants around HD200964 is averaged to be 0.35 AU, or 33 million miles.  Scientists are currently puzzled about why the planets have not been destroyed by the star.  It would seem that their close distance would allow the gravitational force of the star to pull the planets toward it, allowing it to incinerate the planets.  Yet, the planets seem to be locked in such a delicate balance of gravity with each other and the star that the forces are equalized.  Researchers, including scientists from The University of Florida in Gainsville, are somewhat baffled by how these planets maintain such a stable rhythm without being destroyed by their host star.

The number of extrasolar planets discovered, so far, is at 464.  Most of them are extreme giants, far larger than our own giant, Jupiter.  The planets that orbit HD 200964 are estimated to be at distances no greater than 33 million miles from the star.  That distance is a small one, when dealing with planets that orbit stars.  This particular range is said to be comprable to the average orbital distance between our Earth and Mars.  Scientists are speculating that there may be many more planets that are in such curious orbits around their host stars.

Alright; that is enough blogging.  I will read a little more about the very interesting topic.  This particular article does give further information about how HD200964 likely will become a red giant toward the end of it’s time.  Scientists are stating how it is likely that the gravitational force of the expanding star might force it’s two planets out of it’s system, leaving them as possible wandering rouges, until they are captured by the gravity of another star.  Interesting….




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