Flurry of Planets Found at Full Tilt: Violent Interactions May Have Shaped Extrasolar Systems

By Cowen, Ron | Science News, September 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

Flurry of Planets Found at Full Tilt: Violent Interactions May Have Shaped Extrasolar Systems


Cowen, Ron, Science News


Call them the wrong-way planets. Several giant, extrasolar planets, all residing within sizzling distance of their parent stars, have orbits so tilted that the planets travel backward relative to their parent stars' rotation, new studies reveal. The misalignments attest to rough-and-tumble histories and may suggest that life flourished on Earth because the solar system avoided the brunt of close gravitational encounters between planets.

According to the most popular formation theory, planets coalesce from a swirling disk of gas and dust that surrounds young stars. Since the disk rotates in the same direction as the star, the planets spawned should revolve in that direction as well. But in an overcrowded system, where a gravitational game of billiards is all but inevitable, orbits can get scrambled. A close encounter between planetary siblings can push one body outward while flinging the other inward, elongating and tilting the inner planet's orbit.

In this scenario, the Earth's solar system may have been unusually lucky. Either it avoided catastrophic gravitational encounters between massive planets or it suffered such interactions so long ago that most of the planets had time to resettle into nearly circular orbits with little or no tilt, says Frederic Pont of the University of Exeter in England.

"The presence of advanced life on Earth may be contingent on our planetary system having avoided the brunt of planet-planet scatter," keeping Earth on a circular, Goldilocks-style orbit--neither too hot nor too cold for known forms of life, he speculates.

In one of the new studies, posted online August 24 at arXiv.org, Pont and colleagues examined the orbit of the planet COROT-lb. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Flurry of Planets Found at Full Tilt: Violent Interactions May Have Shaped Extrasolar Systems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.