Peculiar planetary system architecture around three Orion stars explained
Not only has the discovery of eoxplanets throughout our galaxy provided a host of new worlds for astronomers to catalogue and observe, but also thrown up new challenges about their formation. New work published in Science by an international team including Carnegie’s Jaehan Bae could explain the architecture of multi-star systems in which planets are separated by wide gaps and do not orbit on the same plane as their host star’s equatorial center.
“In our Solar System, the eight planets and many other minor objects orbit in a flat plane around the Sun; but in some distant systems, planets orbit on an incline—sometimes a very steep one,” Bae explained. “Understanding the origins of extremely oblique orbital angles such as these could help reveal details about the planetary formation process.”
Stars are born in nurseries of gas and dust called molecular clouds—often forming in small groups of two or three. These young stars are surrounded by rotating disks of leftover material, which accretes to form baby planets. The disk’s structure will determine the distribution of the planets that form from it, but much about this process remains unknown.
Led by University of Exeter’s Stefan Kraus, the team found the first direct evidence confirming the theoretical prediction that gravitational interactions between the members of multi-star systems can warp or break their disks, resulting in misaligned rings surrounding the stellar hosts.
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