Posts Tagged ‘planetary theory’

Jupiter-sized exoplanet [Wikipedia]


It seems the planetary structure of our solar system is an oddity compared to most of the exoplanetary systems so far discovered. On the other hand it’s easier to find planets close to their stars than those a long way away, so what is known so far might not be giving us the whole picture.

An international research team led by Université de Montréal astrophysicist Lauren Weiss has discovered that exoplanets orbiting the same star tend to have similar sizes and a regular orbital spacing, says Phys.org.

This pattern, revealed by new W. M. Keck Observatory observations of planetary systems discovered by the Kepler Telescope, could suggest that most planetary systems have a different formation history than the solar system.

Thanks in large part to the NASA Kepler Telescope, launched in 2009, many thousands of exoplanets are now known. This large sample allows researchers to not only study individual systems, but also to draw conclusions on planetary systems in general.

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Although the author appears sold on the idea of trace gases controlling the temperature of planetary atmospheres, the discussion about planets and water is worth a look. The answer to the question may depend on more powerful space telescopes like the James Webb.

Wherever we find water on Earth, we find life writes Elizabeth Tasker at Many Worlds.

It is a connection that extends to the most inhospitable locations, such as the acidic pools of Yellowstone, the black smokers on the ocean floor or the cracks in frozen glaciers.

This intimate relationship led to the NASA maxim, “Follow the Water”, when searching for life on other planets.

Yet it turns out you can have too much of a good thing.

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From left, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. [Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute]

The planetary theory aspect appears a bit later, but first a brief review of some relevant details.

In this Talkshop post: Why Phi? – a triple conjunction comparison we said:
(1) What is the period of a Jupiter(J)-Saturn(S)-Earth(E) (JSE) triple conjunction?
JSE = 21 J-S or 382 J-E or 403 S-E conjunctions (21+382 = 403) in 417.166 years (as an average or mean value).

(2) What is the period of a Jupiter(J)-Saturn(S)-Venus(V) (JSV) triple conjunction?
JSV = 13 J-S or 398 J-V or 411 S-V conjunctions (13+398 = 411) in 258.245 years (as an average or mean value).

Since JSV = 13 J-S and JSE = 21 J-S, the ratio of JSV:JSE is 13:21 exactly (in theory).

As these are consecutive Fibonacci numbers, the ratio is almost 1:Phi or the golden ratio.
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Pluto probe


Uncertainty abounds here. Scientists expected –173° Celsius but ‘the probe found temperatures closer to –203° — with no obvious explanation.’ Perhaps there is a place where enlightenment could be found, if they cared to look.

Meanwhile the ‘gas only’ theory is under pressure [sic] again, as Pluto’s atmosphere apparently defies expectations.

Pluto may be the only place in the solar system whose atmosphere is kept cool by solid hazes, not warmed by gas, says Science News.

Blame Pluto’s haze for the dwarf planet’s unexpected chilliness. Clusters of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere radiate heat back into space, keeping the dwarf planet cool, a new study suggests.

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Saturn’s moon Janus


Cassini maintains its reputation for surprises right to the end. It’s the ‘moon resonances’ that maintain ring stability, but with a new twist.

For three decades, astronomers thought that only Saturn’s moon Janus confined the planet’s A ring – the largest and farthest of the visible rings.

But after poring over NASA’s Cassini mission data, Cornell astronomers now conclude that the teamwork of seven moons keeps this ring corralled, as Phys.org explains.

Without forces to hold the A ring in check, the ring would keep spreading out and ultimately disappear.

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Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]


Planetary theorists say super-Earths are commonly found in other planetary systems, but missing – so far – in our solar system. The evidence seems to be mounting, so is it just a case of tracking one down?

It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side, says NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If a planet is there, it’s extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance — in case you’re wondering — of ever colliding with Earth, or bringing “days of darkness”). It is a possible “Planet Nine” — a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.

The signs so far are indirect, mainly its gravitational footprints, but that adds up to a compelling case nonetheless.

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Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]


This may say something about what is not likely to be true about the mysterious, or mythical, Planet 9 but obviously it’s still all in the realms of theory. If it did form around the sun, how did it get to be so much further away from it than the known major planets in the solar system?

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have shown that ‘Planet 9’ – an unseen planet on the edge of our solar system – probably formed closer to home than previously thought, reports Phys.org.

A team led by Dr Richard Parker from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has found that Planet 9 is ‘unlikely’ to have been captured from another planetary system, as has previously been suggested, and must have formed around the sun.

The outskirts of the solar system have always been something of an enigma, with astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries searching for a giant planet that wasn’t there, and the subsequent discovery of Pluto in 1930.

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They admit that “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question”, as Phys.org reports. The article also points out that ‘The idea that the interior of the Moon is water-rich raises interesting questions about the Moon’s formation.’ Perhaps they are suggesting that some prevailing theories might no longer…er…hold water.

A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains.

The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.

Scientists had assumed for years that the interior of the Moon had been largely depleted of water and other volatile compounds.

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Niagara Falls [image credit: Saffron Blaze / Wikipedia]


The author of this theory says “Jupiter and Saturn’s growth naturally pollutes the inner Solar System with water-rich planetesimals. In my mind the mechanism is very clear”. The theory does seem to bear a resemblance to this summary from the Hans Rickman Uppsala Astronomical Observatory.

Water on Earth, Mars and everywhere within the inner Solar System can be traced back to the rapid waist-expanding growth of Jupiter and Saturn, which knocked inwards a local population of icy planetesimals, as Sci-News reports.

This is according to a new model, which could also explain the current makeup of our modern asteroid belt.

Whilst Earth is often described as the blue marble, with over 70% of its surface covered in oceans, seas, rivers and lakes, water actually makes up less than 0.1% of our planet by mass.
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Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

Excellent – we outlined this ‘resonance chain’ (as they have now dubbed it) in an earlier post here at the Talkshop [see ‘Talkshop note’ in the linked post for details].

When NASA announced its discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system back in February it caused quite a stir, and with good reason says Phys.org.

Three of its seven Earth-sized planets lay in the star’s habitable zone, meaning they may harbour suitable conditions for life.

But one of the major puzzles from the original research describing the system was that it seemed to be unstable.

“If you simulate the system, the planets start crashing into one another in less than a million years,” says Dan Tamayo, a postdoc at U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science.

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Credit: NASA


Another alternative to collision theories of Earth’s formation emerges, as New Scientist reports. Where or how the Moon might fit in is not clear.

It’s not easy to make Earth. Most of the explanations for how our planet formed have troubling problems.

But if a new idea is right, we can thank a hyperactive young sun for Earth’s existence, plus solve a long-standing mystery about Mars.

According to standard lore, the planet-building process began when dust particles orbiting the newborn sun stuck together, forming rocks that built still larger objects. But this story is in trouble.

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HR 8799 system [image credit: Many Worlds]

HR 8799 system [image credit: Many Worlds]


It can’t get much more obvious than this. The report says ‘it’s a one-two-four-eight resonance’ of the orbits of these massive planets, but we find it’s much nearer to 1:2:4:9, with the outer planet taking 450 years for one orbit.

The era of directly imaging exoplanets has only just begun, but the science and viewing pleasures to come are appealingly apparent says Many Worlds.

This evocative movie of four planets more massive than Jupiter orbiting the young star HR 8799 is a composite of sorts, including images taken over seven years at the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii. The movie clearly doesn’t show full orbits, which will take many more years to collect.

The closest-in planet circles the star in around 49 years [report incorrectly says 40]; the furthest takes more than 400 years. But as described by Jason Wang,  an astronomy graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers think that the four planets may well be in resonance with each other.
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Image credit: BBC

Image credit: BBC

It’s an old idea but a new theory. The research director says ‘This is very exciting and in accord with very recent findings of an ‘ocean’s worth’ of water in the Earth’s mantle’.
– – –
Earth’s water may have originally been formed by chemical reactions deep within the planet’s mantle, according to research led by University College Dublin.

The new theory offers an alternative explanation as to how the life-giving liquid may have originated on Earth reports Phys.org.

Previously, scientists have suggested that comets that collided with the planet could have deposited large amounts of ice on the Earth which later melted, forming water.
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hd163296

The spacing of the three rings described has a ratio of 3:5:8 according to the data given (60:100:160 AU) by Phys.org. This Fibonacci pattern may be telling us something about planetary formation.

Rice University astronomers and their colleagues have for the first time mapped gases in three dark rings around a distant star. The rings mark spaces where planets are thought to have formed from dust and gas around the star.

All the rings around HD 163296 are devoid of dust, and the international team of researchers led by Rice astronomer Andrea Isella is sure that planets, probably gas giants with masses comparable to Saturn, are responsible for clearing the outermost ones.

But the inner ring has far more carbon monoxide than the other two, leading them to believe no planet exists there. That remains unexplained, he said.

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Kuiper Belt [credit: amazingspace.org]

Kuiper Belt [credit: amazingspace.org]


The latest research claims to have detected resonant patterns in some of ‘these most distant Kuiper Belt objects’, perhaps suggesting the presence of a major ‘shepherding’ planetary body, as Phys.org reports.

As the search for a hypothetical, unseen planet far, far beyond Neptune’s orbit continues, research by a team of the University of Arizona provides additional support for the possible existence of such a world and narrows the range of its parameters and location.

Led by Renu Malhotra, a Regents’ Professor of Planetary Sciences in the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Lab, the team found that the four Kuiper Belt Objects with the longest known orbital periods revolve around the Sun in patterns most readily explained by the presence of a hypothetical “Planet Nine” approximately ten times the mass of Earth.

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Synchronized orbits of the Kepler-80 system [Credit: Florida Institute of Technology]

Synchronized orbits of the Kepler-80 system [Credit: Florida Institute of Technology]

Another example of planetary resonance has been discovered thanks to NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
H/T Phys.org

Located about 1,100 light years away, Kepler-80, named for the NASA telescope that discovered it, features five small planets orbiting in extreme proximity to their star.

As early as 2012, Kepler scientists found that all five planets orbit in an area about 150 times smaller than the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, with “years” of about one, three, four, seven and nine days.

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More big planets than this in our solar system? [credit: wikipedia]

More big planets than this in our solar system? [credit: wikipedia]


Talk of a ‘Planet 9’ has stirred up the planetary theorists it seems. Think of a number…
H/T Daily Telegraph

The Solar System may hold 10 or 11 planets, scientists have predicted after running new computer models on the data which led to the announcement of Planet Nine.

In January, astronomers Professor Konstantin Batygin and Professor Mike Brown from California Institute of Technology predicted the existence of a ninth planet after discovering that 13 objects in the Kuiper Belt – an area beyond Neptune – were all moving together as if ‘lassooed’ by the gravity of a huge object.

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The Kepler-223 planetary system, which has long-term stability because its four planets interact gravitationally to keep the beat of a carefully choreographed dance as they orbit their host star. [credit: W.Rebel]

The Kepler-223 planetary system, which has long-term stability because its four planets interact gravitationally to keep the beat of a carefully choreographed dance as they orbit their host star.
[credit: W.Rebel]


As the report says: ‘Kepler-223’s two innermost planets are in a 4:3 resonance. The second and third are in a 3:2 resonance. And the third and fourth are in a 4:3 resonance.’ They are ‘far more massive than Earth’. Interesting to say the least.

The four planets of the Kepler-223 star system seem to have little in common with the planets of Earth’s own solar system. And yet a new study shows that the Kepler-223 system is trapped in an orbital configuration that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune may have broken from in the early history of the solar system.

“Exactly how and where planets form is an outstanding question in planetary science,” said the study’s lead author, Sean Mills, a graduate student in astronomy & astrophysics at the University of Chicago. “Our work essentially tests a model for planet formation for a type of planet we don’t have in our solar system.”

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credit: cgtrader

credit: cgtrader


This will have theorists scratching their heads.

The idea that the young Earth had a thicker atmosphere turns out to be wrong. New research from the University of Washington uses bubbles trapped in 2.7 billion-year-old rocks to show that air at that time exerted at most half the pressure of today’s atmosphere.

The results, published online May 9 in Nature Geoscience, reverse the commonly accepted idea that the early Earth had a thicker atmosphere to compensate for weaker sunlight.

The finding also has implications for which gases were in that atmosphere, and how biology and climate worked on the early planet.

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Pluto's non-standard orbit [credit: Wikipedia]

Pluto’s non-standard orbit [credit: Wikipedia]

‘Pluto’s orbital period is 248 Earth years. Its orbital characteristics are substantially different from those of the planets, which follow nearly circular orbits around the Sun close to a flat reference plane called the ecliptic. In contrast, Pluto’s orbit is moderately inclined relative to the ecliptic (over 17°) and moderately eccentric (elliptical). This eccentricity means a small region of Pluto’s orbit lies nearer the Sun than Neptune’s.’ – Wikipedia

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