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
Don't be fooled by Bernie Sanders - he's a diehard communist
As polls tighten and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders looks more like a serious contender than a novelty candidate for president, the liberal media elite have suddenly stopped calling him socialist. He’s now cleaned up as a “progressive” or “pragmatist.”
But he’s not even a socialist. He’s a communist.
Mainstreaming Sanders requires whitewashing his radical pro-communist past. It won’t be easy to do.
Roosh Really is a Rape Advocate (& a Rapist, if He’s Telling the Truth)
Ed comment: When we covered the press conference earlier this week. We wrote: There are many different levels of criticism that is thrown around - perhaps some more valid than others.Well, the below piece is just such valid criticism.
It's clear that the media made the right accusation, BUT over the wrong material. The most recent accusation was clearly based on ...
New Hampshire Voters "Outright Crazy" Says Bilderberger Carl Bildt, Ex-Prime Minister Of Europe’s Rape Capital
The people of New Hampshire are “outright crazy” for voting for U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat contender
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) , a former Swedish Prime Minister and foreign minister has said.
After the primary results were announced, Carl Bildt tweeted this morning that he had always felt New Hampshire to be a “decent small place”. Not anymore, however:
Mr Bildt served ...
Mother of ten-year-old boy raped in Austrian swimming pool by Iraqi who said it was 'a sexual emergency' says she regrets telling her children 'migrants need our help'
The mother of the boy who was raped by an Iraqi migrant in a swimming pool in Austria, has said she regrets teaching her children to be welcoming to migrants and described the man's defence as 'just monstrous'.
The boy's mother Dunja, who arrived in Austria as an immigrant in the 90s from Serbia during the Civil War, said she had ...
NY School Organizes ‘Hijab Day’ For Non-Muslim Students
Officials at Rochester’s World School of Inquiry spent last week fielding dozens of calls from parents angry about a “World Hijab Day” event that encouraged girls to wear the Muslim religious head covering.
Sophomore Eman Muthana wears a hijab to school and wrote a letter to principal Sheela Webster asking if the school can put on its own World Hijab Day ...
|More News » |