Young Planets Migrated In Double-Star Systems, Model Shows

by Elizabeth Howell on January 31, 2014

Artist's conception of Kepler 34b, which orbits two stars. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Artist’s conception of Kepler 34b, which orbits two stars. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Binary star systems are downright dangerous due to their complex gravitational interactions that can easily grind a planet to pieces. So how is it that we have found a few planets in these Tattooine-like environments?

Research led by the University of Bristol show that most planets formed far away from their central stars and then migrated in at some point in their history, according to research collected concerning Kepler-34b and other exoplanets.

The scientists did “computer simulations of the early stages of planet formation around the binary stars using a sophisticated model that calculates the effect of gravity and physical collisions on and between one million planetary building blocks,” stated the university.

“They found that the majority of these planets must have formed much further away from the central binary stars and then migrated to their current location.”

You can read more about the research in Astrophysical Journal Letters. It was led by Bristol graduate student Stefan Lines with participation from advanced research fellow and computational astrophysicst Zoe Lienhardt, among other collaborators.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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