Gas Giant too Big for Tiny Star

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Gas Giant too Big for Tiny Star

#1  Postby Jerome Da Gnome » May 07, 2015 3:44 pm

Researchers at ANU have helped discover a strange exoplanet orbiting a small cool star 500 light years that away is challenging ideas about how planets form.

"We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely," said George Zhou from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy.

"It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can't explain how this happened."


A huge exoplanet 500 light-years from Earth has astronomers baffled.

Dubbed HATS-6b, the newfound gas giant is considered "too big" for its host star, and has a super-tight orbit. On HATS-6b, one full year lasts a mere 3.3 Earth-days.

"We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely," George Zhou, a Ph.D. student at the Australian National University's Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy in Canberra and one of the researchers who discovered the planet, said in a written statement. "It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can't explain how this happened."

Planet formation. Astronomers have long believed that planets form out of a swirling disk of gas and dust around a newborn star. And as Zhou told The Huffington Post in an email, scientists also think that protoplanetary disks around small stars contain less planet-forming material than the ones around big stars. That raises an obvious question: since its host star -- an M-dwarf known as HATS-6 -- is so small, how can HATS-6b be so big?

"The existence of HATS-6b ... presents a challenge to planet formation theories -- any comprehensive theory of planet formation must explain why gas giants are uncommon around small stars, but still allow for the occasional formation of these planets," he said in the email.


http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/new ... r-its-star
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/0 ... 13586.html
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Re: Gas Giant too Big for Tiny Star

#2  Postby DavidMcC » May 07, 2015 4:23 pm

Maybe the system should be considered to be a kind of failed binary star system, in which one star wasn't quite big enough to ignite, and so became a "gas giant planet" instead. :dunno:
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