Thursday, August 27, 2009

that planet should have died 999 million years ago OR "exoplanet menagerie"

From taragana.com (hat tip: C-J via the LA Times; but couldn't find it on either website)...

Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet.

The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet’s zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star.

The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star.

It’s a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier’s report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature...

The star is called WASP-18 and the planet is WASP-18b because of the Wide Angle Search for Planets team that found them.

The planet circles a star that is in the constellation Phoenix and is about 325 light-years away from Earth, which means it is in our galactic neighborhood....

The planet is 1.9 million miles from its star, 1/50th of the distance between Earth and the sun, our star. And because of that the temperature is about 3,800 degrees.

Its size — 10 times bigger than Jupiter — and its proximity to its star make it likely to die, Hellier said....

Like most planets outside our solar system, this planet was not seen directly by a telescope. Astronomers found it by seeing dips in light from the star every time the planet came between the star and Earth.

So far astronomers have found more than 370 planets outside the solar system. This one is “yet another weird one in the exoplanet menagerie,” said planet specialist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington....

It’s so unusual to find a suicidal planet that University of Maryland astronomer Douglas Hamilton questioned whether there was another explanation. While it is likely that this is a suicidal planet, Hamilton said it is also possible that some basic physics calculations that all astronomers rely on could be dead wrong....

The C-J article adds another wrinkle:

"WASP-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and since stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, WASP-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago."

1 Comments:

At August 27, 2009 at 5:53 PM , Blogger jia said...

Hello Sir.I also bookmarked this cosmic headline from yahoopage.Very intresting.GOD BLESS,Tremendously.

 

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