August 27, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Delicate Planet Dance Disturbs Theories

Theorists have been thrown a curve ball with the discovery of a planet orbiting a binary star.  It appears that the gravitational tug on a hypothetical dust disk would have prevented the possibility of a planet forming around one of its members, but Gamma-Cephei has one.  “The formation of a planet in a binary star system poses serious problems, in particular when the two stars are very close,” reports the Paris Observatory.  Some possible scenarios are considered, but “the ‘standard’ planetary formation scenario encounters here several problems.  It requires very specific initial conditions in order to successfully complete,” the study concludes.

The ongoing discoveries of extrasolar planets, unheard of a decade ago, are providing storytellers wonderful new challenges to practice their art.  No matter the difficulty, as long as there is an audience, the show must go on.

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Categories: Astronomy, Solar System

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