Thursday, January 10, 2008

Planets in nearby solar system may have collided

Shaun Saunders sends in an article, from Space.com, that reports on a study that suggests that 2 planets may have collided in a nearby solar system.

An extrasolar planet about one-fourth the heft of Jupiter might have formed from the collision and merger of two planets. Known as 2M1207B, the object orbits a brown-dwarf star called 2M1207A located 170 light-years from Earth and seen in the direction of the constellation Centaurus. Astronomers have discovered that this object does not fall into standard models of planetary objects. Its temperature, age and brightness don't match up with what astrophysical theory would predict. Researchers have debated since 2004 on whether it's a planet or perhaps a brown dwarf. Previously the object was thought to mass about 5 Jupiters. However, new observations suggest the mass that of half that of Jupiter. If the new model is correct, it would mean 2M1207B formed in a similar fashion to a planet. It would also means that a 2004 picture of the object would go down in history as the first photo of a planet outside our solar system.

Read complete article here

4 comments:

wolfkahn said...

Fascinating! A planet around a brown-dwarf is intriguing, but one that may still be cooling from a major collision is just amazing.

I can't wait 'till Kepler is launched and smaller planets are discovered. Until then though, this is certainly one of the top 10 most interesting extrasolar planets.

Paul said...

I know Dave! I mean I am floored, I mean, here I am just getting used to the fact that they are inferring a planet by the wobble of the parent star. And then being able to do atmospherics from the way the parent star's spectrum changed as the planet passed in front of the star. But now we are resolving stars?!!! and Planets!!!! I feel like some techie Rip Van Winkle...when did this crap happen....I didn't even know I was asleep!

Shaun said...

Gentlemen,

Taking this discussion a leap further, it is not beyond the realms of possibility (as I understand it) that our own sun may have an as yet undiscovered brown dwarf companion...now wouldn't that be interesting? If such an object was found, we'd be living in a binary system (which is the more common state of affairs in the galaxy). Now what if such a binary had a planet or two of its own...

Beam Me Up said...

Yes, very exciting at the very least, but hold up. I thought Sol already was a binary pair? I though Barnard's star at 4.something lightyears was in a binary orbit with our parent star SOL. Am I wrong?