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Yet another planet is discovered to overturn our theories of planetary formation

newplanetOr will it?  The one just discovered is about 12 times the size of Jupiter, yet it orbits its star at a distance of over 600 billion miles.  Some conventional theories suggest that planets coalesced through collisions in the leftover material when the sun formed, but this is too much material and too far away.  The planet, designated HD 106906, is a youngster in astronomical terms, being only about 13 million years old, compared to the Earth’s estimated 4.5 billion years.  It orbits a white main-sequence star in the constellation Crux around 300 light-years away from Earth.

Given its size and distance, a fairly obvious explanation suggests itself, and it seems to be the one the discovery team scientists are leaning towards.  That is that the object was not formed by colliding asteroids, nor from a spinning disc of gas and dust around its parent star.  It is that the object could more accurately be described as a failed star, and would have been part of a binary system with the one that did ignite.  HD 106906 just didn’t have enough material to produce the pressures and temperatures it takes for a star to be born.  Like its adjacent star, it collapsed from a clump of gas, but in this case not large enough to ignite thermonuclear fusion.  There’s a problem with this explanation, too, in that typically the mass ratio of two stars in a binary system does not exceed 10:1, yet in this case the ratio is over 100:1.  So we might have to revisit our theories of binary star system formation as well as those of planetary formation.  All of which makes HD 106906 a really interesting object.

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One Response

  1. I have had a suspicion for many years that certain planets are either failed stars or even shrunken cores of burned out stars. Earth could fit this concept It still seems to be cooling down but has an internal heat source. Jupiter emits heat which could indicate a molten or hot gaseous core. Could colliding debris 4.5 billion years ago forming a planet still be emitting such vast amounts of internal heat or should we be as dead as our moon ? Are we inhabiting a very old dying sun in it’s final stages of solidification ? This is fascinating and not completely explained.

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