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Binary terrestrial planets may exist - VIDEO PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 December 2014 08:31

The possible existence of Earth-like planets binary was described by the American astronomical community during a meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Two body weight of each of which is similar to the earth, may form a close pair orbital, under certain conditions during formation of the planetary system. This theoretical assumption is not like the Earth-Moon system, or Pluto-Charon, when two bodies are different, by weight, and occurs under certain conditions "kiss" when two bodies with similar mass meet each other and become bound system due to loss of energy .
Such a binary system can be maintained for billions of years provided that formed sufficiently far from the central star about a half. e. (the distance from the Earth to the Sun) or more.

The work was presented by Ryan Keegan and David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The results do not contradict the current criteria for the existence of planets orbiting stars, but suggest that in the future the data may reveal such systems. This is the first study on the possible existence of binary Earth-like planets.

In the process of the formation of Earth-like planets, large rocky body orbiting a star can sometimes be close enough to interact with each other. If two bodies collide frontally or at an angle, the interaction typically causes accretion, when two bodies merge to form large, sometimes disc dust and debris, which can be formed from the Moon. Thus was formed the Earth's Moon, and perhaps the Moon of Pluto - Charon. If two bodies collide tangentially but at high speed, they repel each other without forming a bound pair.

The present study examines the averaged version of the two scenarios - when the interaction leads to the fact that two large bodies do not merge, but remain trapped in orbit. This configuration - binary planetary system Earth-like - have to come to a state where the two bodies will be tidally locked (the orbital period is equal to the length of day on each planet). Center the two planets will be about three radii of the planets. Something like this:


There is good reason to believe that the binary Earth-like planets may be possible. In a collision tangential angular momentum is too high to be withstood one rotating body (then divided), and if the body barely touch each other, they can retain their identity. Nevertheless, this scenario means that the body initially approaching each other with a sufficiently low speed.

To test this possibility has been used simulation technique called "smoothed particle hydrodynamics» (SPH). SPH represents the body as a collection of tens or hundreds of particles and is used for studying protoplanetary collision, including shock hypothesis and verification of the Moon.

With SPH were simulated collision between two rocky bodies the size of Earth, considered various percussion speed and other parameters of a collision. In cases where the body is undergoing major collision, scientists came to the previous results, which constitutes a binary system, but there is a Moon. However, in the case of interactions, where the bodies were close enough to experience the great tidal distortion, found the conditions that led to the emergence of a binary system of planets.

Despite the specialized computer equipment that was used to speed up the calculations, each simulation took about a week. Most of that time was spent on modeling approach of two bodies. However, this issue could be solved analytically, and so scientists have introduced a new method in the code SPH, which dynamically switches between modeling methods, reducing the time to one day. Ultimately, the scientists were able to determine the criteria under which the planets would form a binary system.

Binary asteroids are well known; also known systems that form a kind of "dumbbell" or other forms. Binary stars are also well known. However, double (binary) of the planet with large bodies were found only in science fiction. Perhaps new research will help astronomers identify them in real-life space.

 


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