Suicidal planet seems on death spiral into star
By Seth Borenstein | USAToday.com
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 is a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at Keele University in England. Hellier's report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
"It's causing its own destruction by creating these tides," Hellier said.
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 Earth's galactic neighborhood. A light-year is about 5.8 trillion miles.
The planet is 1.9 million miles (3 million kilometers) from its star, 1/50th of the distance between Earth and its star, the sun. And because of that the temperature is about 3,800 degrees (2,100 Celsius).
Its size — 10 times bigger than Jupiter — and its proximity to its star make it likely to die, Hellier said.
Think of how the distant moon pulls Earth's oceans to form twice-daily tides. The effect the odd planet has on its star is thousands of times stronger, Hellier said. The star's tidal bulge of plasma may extend hundreds of miles, he said.
Like most planets outside Earth's 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 is 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 also is possible that some basic physics calculations that all astronomers rely on could be dead wrong.
The answer will become apparent in less than a decade if the planet seems to be further in a death spiral, he said.
Article from: USAToday.com
Image credit: CARREAU/ESA/Nature
Planet orbits the wrong way
Scientists uncover lost Venetian city
Planet twice as big as Earth discovered
Quest to find life beyond our planet gets technological boosts
Hello from Earth: Send a Message to a Nearby Planet
NASA uses probes to hunt for ancient planet that may prove Earth moon origins
Nasa's planet hunter seeks new earths
Mysterious changes seen on distant dwarf planet
First-ever images taken of extrasolar planets
Latest News from our Front Page
The Pilgrims Were Definitely Not Like Modern-Day Refugees
This upcoming Thanksgiving Day is sure to offer you and your family plenty of opportunities to argue over whether America should be welcoming Syrian refugees.
If you have any liberal relatives or friends coming over for your Thursday feast, theyâ€™re going to relish the chance to tell everyone that the Pilgrims were refugees too â€” and hope that statement decimates all ...
ISIS to France: "We will be coming. Victory has been promised to us by Allah"
Homegrown French ISIS fighters have issued a chilling threat of new attacks on France just 24 hours after the terrorist group used movie footage of the Eiffel Tower's collapse in another video.
A balaclava-clad militant is seen warning 'we will be coming, we will come to crush your country' in footage posted on Twitter earlier today.
It is unclear where the film ...
ISIS teenage 'poster girl' Samra Kesinovic 'beaten to death' as she tried to flee the group
She appeared in social media images for the group carrying a Kalashnikov and surrounded by armed men
A teenage girl who ran away from her Vienna home to join Isis in Syria has reportedly been beaten to death by the group after trying to escape.
Samra Kesinovic, 17, travelled to Syria last year with her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15.
The two became a ...
The Right Stuff's flagship podcast "The Daily Shoah" has been censored by Soundcloud
Editor's note: The PC corporate moral police strike again. Just as Radio 3Fourteen & Red Ice Radio were censored from iTunes, The Daily Shoah was pulled from Soundcloud today. As per usual, there is a double standard, they allow any kind of anti-White material:
No counter culture humor making fun of the genocidal mainstream garbage is allowed!
Soundcloud took it upon ...
Merkel Welcomes A Million More: Vows To Stand By Refugee Policy Despite Security Fears
Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Wednesday to stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to growing fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris.
Conservative Merkel faces splits in her right-left coalition and pressure from EU states, including France, over her insistence that Germany can cope with up ...
|More News » |