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The Exoplanet Thread

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#21 Orpheus

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:38 PM

You might be interested to know that recent simulations indicate that it is quite unlikely that our solar system originally had four gas giants which stabilized into their current orbits. It's at least ten time more likely that there was a fifth that was expelled (they haven't verified six or more).  This seems increasingly plausible as we start to locate dark (almost impossible to find) interstellar "rogue" planets -- even quite nearby.

Without going into fancy details: as a random solar system coalesces and stabilizes into near-circular orbits, a number of of energy imbalances [like eccentric orbits], resonances [orbits that line up at some multiple and give each other a regular 'tug'] etc. can arise. A single eccentric planetary orbit can help transfer/equalize energy between orbits. It seems likely that most larger star systems will eject one or more planets, due to these interactions, and in the process carry away a lot of the "imbalance" -- and a big planet can carry away solar system [orbit] scale amounts of energy that a small planet may not.

Physics is full of stabilizing/equalizing mechanisms like this -- but this is not due to any underlying preference in e universe. Water boils in a gravity field, distributing its energy more evenly, but if you heat one part of a container of water in free-fall, local temps build much higher, stabilizing with much larger gradients. If there's an underlying principle, it's this:  *either* energy distributes and equalizes, or it doesn't and builds up until it escapes catastrophically. In the case of water in free fall, the bubbles of vapor merge in the *center* of the water forming a bubble which grows until it ultimately [catastrophically] bursts its ever-thinning shell of water

It's almost more a principle of logic than physics: either things build up or they equalize, but they can only build up so far.

Fifth Giant Planet May Have Dwelled in Our Solar System

5th Giant Planet Ousted From Early Solar System

#22 RJDiogenes

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:13 PM

That's certainly easy to believe.  Systems are dynamic and evolve over time. There's no reason to think that the Solar System wasn't very different in the past and won't be more different in the future. In fact, we know it was-- the Earth-Moon system was created by a collision between our predecessor planet and something the size of Mars.  I wonder if the ejected gas giant is responsible for Uranus's strange orientation (don't take that personally).  It's also interesting to think that we may one day be able to track down that missing planet somehow, with some as-yet undeveloped technology.

Today's Exoplanet is called, I kid you not, 24 Sex c.  Unfortunately, it's too sex c for its habitable zone-- while it spends most of its time comfortably in the zone, it also spends a good third of its orbit inside the zone, where it's too hot for liquid water. It's orbital period is 883 days, so that's nearly ten Earth months in the boiler, making it a bit iffy for complex life. The planet's mass is .86 of Jupiter and its star is 1.54 solar masses, and it is 74.8 parsecs away-- not exactly close.
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#23 Orpheus

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 02:45 AM

Actually, I think it is reasonably probable that our solar system WON'T have any more catastrophic changes (beyond the gradual changes we expect from reasonable orbital and stellar evolution). Our solar system is at least middle aged (older) as far as our sun goes, so most of the imbalances have evened out. Unless (for example) some massive body gets dislodged from the Oort cloud by some passing extra-solar body and [almost] collides with a planet, it's pretty likely that not too much exciting will happen until our sun swells up into a big red star and engulfs some of the inner planets.

OTOH, I think it is *quite* likely that we will locate our expelled gas giant(s) in our lifetimes. Though it may have been expelled billions of years ago, it's probably not traveling more than a few km/sec (after subtracting the energy it used escaping Sol), which is on he order of 1/100,000the the speed of light. In fact, it's quite likely on the low end of that estimate, because it most likely only built up "just a bit more" than needed to escape, not "a whole lot more".

HOWEVER, one reasonable hypothesis IMHO is a sort of combination of the "dislodged Oort cloud" and "escaped planet" hypotheses: the gas Giant HASN'T ESCAPED AT ALL and is coming back. [I'm not worried: Rae promised to save me from Nibiru, and she'd be too gracious to nitpick that it CAN'T be Sitchin's Planet X/Nibiru because its orbital period is far too long to factor in the human scale in any way]

How is this possible?  Simple: Pluto has a relatively circular orbit of 246 years, but we know many comets with periods longer than that -- the further from the sun you go, the slower you move (that's the converse of  "the closer you fall towards the sun, the faster you move), so a comet with a similar orbital energy to Pluto's could spend just a year or two inside the "known" solar system, but tens/hundreds of thousands of years slowly crawling through the Oort Cloud, H. sapiens couldn't have seen it unless it passed though known Solar system in the last 25Kyr (and probably wouldn't have seen it even then, because it's a compact gas/ice body that was once in-system, not an always-frozen comet that forms a tail way out past Pluto). Even if we saw it, we could only have distinguished it from a comet if it passed in the last ~250 years.

Now consider: planets don't tend to suddenly get flung out into space (or suddenly *anything*) unless they have a *very* close encounter with a planet [disrupting the circular orbit of that planet] or the sun itself, they just get an occasional modest boost, until the orbit is stretched to last 10s/100s of years between solar passes. It may only get a boost (or slowdown) from a planetary encounter once or twice per million years, then every ten million, then every 100 million etc. It won't encounter a planet on most passes, because planets are just tiny dots in the immense disk of the solar system. It could easily go through a phase of one boost every billion years before it ultimately escapes, and the solar system is just a few billion years old!

If it passed within many million years, and it orbits near the ecliptic (the plane of the solar system), we should see the effects of its passage on the asteroid belt

IOW, we simply couldn't know it was still in an extended "comet-like" orbit around our sun, and it could easily take billions of years to get that final push that turns it truly rogue. BUT since it's so close, it should be easier to find than a cold rogue planet (not that we've been able to find anything but a few hot rogue planets or rather cool stars in what we always considered "interstellar" space -- not yet)  I believe that we will be able to detect "Jupiter-like" thermal radio emissions out to 1-2 light years [halfway to Alpha Centauri) in our lives.

#24 RJDiogenes

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:20 PM

Very interesting indeed. My thoughts were that the ejected planet could have been flung in any possible direction, not just the plane of the ecliptic, leaving us a lot of sky to search in-- but, yeah, the most likely scenario is certainly a perpindicular direction. If the distance is really within one or two light years after all this time, it's certainly possible that an existing telescope could detect it, let alone a future one. And, I suppose, measurements of its trajectory along with a spectral analysis could confirm its origin.  That's very encouraging!  I wonder if anyone is actively looking for our prodigal gassy sibling.

Today's Exoplanet is HD 170469 b, a planet 211 light years from Earth, and, so far, the only known planet in its system.  It is .67 Jupiter masses and orbits a star 1.14 solar masses in an orbit of 1145 days. That puts it out past the orbit of Mars, somewhere in the inner fringes of the asteroid belt. The orbit is slightly eccentric, taking it from comfortably in the center of the habitable zone right to the outer fringes.  It is certainly possible that this planet has a moon or moons, or is even itself, that possesses a clement environment.
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#25 Orpheus

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:48 PM

A close encounter that launched a gas giant out of the plane of the Ecliptic would almost certainly launch (or leave) its interaction partner out of the Ecliptic, too.

It would actually be easier (now) to spot a planet out of the plane of the ecliptic, even 1-2 light years or more away because its temperature would be above the background space, and it would appear larger than most or all stars. (Gas Giants even as close to the sun as Jupiter still emit more heat from internal processes than they receive from the sun). By contrast, the gas, ice and dust in the Ecliptic create a hindering visual smog -- just as the plane of the Milky Way is visible as a milky fog.

We may yet find "brothers" out of the ecliptic, but the window on that is closing rapidly. Current tech spotted a  rogue planet 100 light years away, so new sky surveys should catch out-of-plane planets within two light years.

#26 RJDiogenes

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 07:22 PM

That would be quite remarkable. I'd love to see it happen. Is there anywhere online, do you know, where they give the details of the most likely simulations?

Today's Exoplanet is very interesting indeed.  HD 139357 b is a gas giant floating serenely around a star 396 light years away.  The star is 1.35 solar masses, making its habitable zone farther out than ours, and the planet is 9.76 times the mass of Jupiter with a year of 1,125.7 days (almost exactly three Earth years). In our Solar System, it would be almost halfway through the Asteroid Belt, but in its home system it is comfortably ensconced in the habitable zone.  And it has a nice circular orbit that is only a little off center.  Any large moons would be perfectly placed for a thriving ecology.
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#27 RJDiogenes

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:26 PM

Okay, I've been busy for a few days, but the universe is still here and I have a new Exoplanet for you.

42 Dra b is pretty interesting.  It's a gas giant 3.88 times the mass of Jupiter and lies 317.4 light years away around a star of .98 solar masses.  So far it is the only known planet in the system.  It has a year of 479 days and a very eccentric orbit which takes it from exactly the orbit of Venus to exactly the orbit of Mars. At no time does it leave the habitable zone.  Any large habitable moons would have quite interesting environments.  When you think about how a slight axial tilt can cause significant seasonal change and long-term climatic variance on Earth and then consider not only the millions of miles between the inner and outer limits of this planet's orbit, but also that the potentially habitable moons will be orbiting an additional couple of million miles nearer and farther on a shorter-term cycle-- well, it's hard to imagine what will come of that, but it must be pretty wild.

Of course, the other interesting thing is that this star is "metal poor," so the planet may have no satellites at all.
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#28 RJDiogenes

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:32 PM

Today we have two Exoplanets.  Why two?  Because they both orbit the same star and both are in the habitable zone. You don't see that very often.  The star, mu Ara, lies 50 light years from Earth and is 1.08 solar masses, giving it a just slightly larger habitable zone than ours.  There are four known planets in the system in total.  mu Ara d is .52 Jupiter masses and has a year of 310.55 days, making it slightly closer than Earth and putting it right on the inner fringe of the habitable zone.  mu Ara b is 1.68 Jupiter masses and has a year of 643.25 days, making it right about where Mars is and smack dab in the middle of the zone.  Both planets have mostly circular orbits with only minor eccentricity.  Potentially both of these planets could possess living moons.
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#29 Elara

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:34 PM

Maybe I can move to one of these planets/moons? :wink:  :happy:
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#30 RJDiogenes

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 08:07 PM

^^  I will allow homesteading as long as there are no indigenous intelligent species. :lol:

Today's Exoplanet is HD 240210 b, a hefty gas giant of 6.9 Jupiter masses located 466 light years from Earth.  It orbits a star of 1.25 olar masses, which pushes the habitable zone out substantially farther than our own (out to the middle of the asteroid belt-- Earth would be too close to the sun). The planet has a year of 501 days, putting it slightly inside the orbit of Mars, but the orbit is eccentric and at its closest approach just touches the inner fringe of the zone. Still, a planet this size could have substantial moons that host habitable environments. Elara has first pick of any attractive real estate in this system.  ;)
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#31 Elara

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:51 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 28 December 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

^^  I will allow homesteading as long as there are no indigenous intelligent species. :lol:

But... who else did you think I planned on talking to? ~sheesh!~ :D

View PostRJDiogenes, on 28 December 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

Today's Exoplanet is HD 240210 b, a hefty gas giant of 6.9 Jupiter masses located 466 light years from Earth.  It orbits a star of 1.25 olar masses, which pushes the habitable zone out substantially farther than our own (out to the middle of the asteroid belt-- Earth would be too close to the sun). The planet has a year of 501 days, putting it slightly inside the orbit of Mars, but the orbit is eccentric and at its closest approach just touches the inner fringe of the zone. Still, a planet this size could have substantial moons that host habitable environments. Elara has first pick of any attractive real estate in this system.  ;)

hmmm... okay, as long as I can find a nice Midwestern type climate. I like my snowy winters and hot summers. :lol: And I won't be greedy, I only want about a thousand acres. :D
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#32 Orpheus

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:09 AM

It's important to note that when astronomers say "metal", they mean ALL elements except hydrogen and helium.

Most astronomy rock concerts are substantially less than head-banging

-- Orpheus "Astrophysics paper presentations, however, are substantially more head-banging"

#33 Nonny

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:48 AM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 28 December 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

^^  I will allow homesteading as long as there are no indigenous intelligent species. :lol:

I can see it now, tourists wearing Beam Me Up, Scotty, There's No Intelligent Life Down Here teeshirts.    :D

View PostElara, on 28 December 2012 - 11:51 PM, said:

But... who else did you think I planned on talking to? ~sheesh!~ :D

Hey, neighbor!   :waves:

View PostOrpheus, on 29 December 2012 - 01:09 AM, said:

-- Orpheus "Astrophysics paper presentations, however, are substantially more head-banging"

One of my very favorite professors of linguistics once presented a paper that touched off fistfights at Oxford.  Good times!   :freakoutnonny:
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#34 RJDiogenes

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:29 PM

View PostElara, on 28 December 2012 - 11:51 PM, said:

hmmm... okay, as long as I can find a nice Midwestern type climate. I like my snowy winters and hot summers. :lol: And I won't be greedy, I only want about a thousand acres. :D
Given that planet's orbit, you will have snowy Winters and hot Summers to the max. I don't know if "Midwestern" would be the appropriate description, though. :lol:

View PostOrpheus, on 29 December 2012 - 01:09 AM, said:

It's important to note that when astronomers say "metal", they mean ALL elements except hydrogen and helium.
That's exactly why I question the likelihood of planets. There may not be enough heavy stuff to clump together into anything substantial.

View PostNonny, on 29 December 2012 - 07:48 AM, said:

One of my very favorite professors of linguistics once presented a paper that touched off fistfights at Oxford.  Good times!   :freakoutnonny:  
Fighting scientists.  This is why I love Sidney Harris.

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:lol:

Today's planet is in a similar situation to the last.  BD14 4559 b is a gas giant of 1.47 Jupiter masses that orbits a star 163 light years away.  The star is 86% the mass of the sun, bringing the habitable zone in closer and making it smaller.  The planet has a year of 269 days and has an eccentricity similar to the last one, in that it goes from the inner fringe of the zone (about halfway between Mercury and Venus in this case) right to the very middle of the zone (almost exactly the orbit of Earth). So, despite the differences in the masses of star and planet, any large moons would be in about the same circumstances in terms of potential climate.
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#35 Elara

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 11:59 PM

View PostNonny, on 29 December 2012 - 07:48 AM, said:

View PostElara, on 28 December 2012 - 11:51 PM, said:

But... who else did you think I planned on talking to? ~sheesh!~ :D

Hey, neighbor!   :waves:

:D Well, sure, Nonny, but I wanted new life to chat with, too. :lol:

View PostRJDiogenes, on 30 December 2012 - 06:29 PM, said:

View PostElara, on 28 December 2012 - 11:51 PM, said:

hmmm... okay, as long as I can find a nice Midwestern type climate. I like my snowy winters and hot summers. :lol: And I won't be greedy, I only want about a thousand acres. :D
Given that planet's orbit, you will have snowy Winters and hot Summers to the max. I don't know if "Midwestern" would be the appropriate description, though. :lol:

On to the next one, then.  :nod:

(I have visions of some other life, on the other side of a telescope looking at Earth and trying to decide whether it could be habitable or not)
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#36 Nonny

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 30 December 2012 - 06:29 PM, said:

Fighting scientists.  This is why I love Sidney Harris.

:freakoutnonny:  :howling:  :D
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#37 Cybersnark

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:32 AM

View PostElara, on 31 December 2012 - 11:59 PM, said:

(I have visions of some other life, on the other side of a telescope looking at Earth and trying to decide whether it could be habitable or not)

Almost certainly not; it's choked in a highly reactive and corrosive atmosphere, drowning in water, and the temperature gradient drifts from near scalding at the equator to frigid at the poles. The axial tilt means that the planet doesn't even see the same weather; anyone on the surface would constantly be dealing with the planet's oscillating hot/cold cycle. While it's possible (though not probable) that life could have arisen in the temperate regions, the vast majority of the surface would be a wasteland, irradiated by the rays (and occasional flares) of the local star.
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#38 RJDiogenes

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:13 PM

^^  "Its orbit is much too circular and stable, creating a benign environment that is unlikely to give rise to life in the first place and unlikely to provide evolutionary pressure to any life forms that do arise."

View PostNonny, on 01 January 2013 - 08:20 AM, said:

View PostRJDiogenes, on 30 December 2012 - 06:29 PM, said:

Fighting scientists.  This is why I love Sidney Harris.

:freakoutnonny:  :howling:  :D
Sidney Harris is great. If you like cartoons and you like science, you should track down his stuff. :nod:

View PostElara, on 31 December 2012 - 11:59 PM, said:

On to the next one, then.  :nod:  
The next one should have a bit more stable environment:  HD 73534 b is a gas giant just 15% more massive than Jupiter and lies 316 light years away around a star 29% more massive than the sun.  Its orbit  of 4.9 Earth years is nearly circular and is about where the asteroid belt would be, which is right at the outer edge of the habitable zone in that system. Any large moons would experience colder or warmer temperatures as they orbit the planet, but, depending on their distance, may also receive additional warmth from the planet itself.
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#39 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

My Exoplanet app pinged me with the first two Exoplanet discoveries of 2013 today:  HAT-P-42 b (.98 Jupiter masses, orbital period of 4.64 days around a star of 1.18 solar masses) and HAT-P-43 b (.66 Jupiter masses, orbital period of 3.33 days around a star of 1.05 solar masses)-- needless to say, neither one is in the habitable zone.

But today's regularly scheduled Exoplanet profile is much more promising.  HD 216435 b is a gas giant of 1.26 Jupiter masses orbiting a star of 1.3 solar masses at a distance of 108.6 light years. Its year is 3.6 Earth years, putting it right in the middle of the asteroid belt, compared to our solar system. The orbit is very close to circular. Overall, it's very similar to yesterday's planet and is a very promising prospect if it has any large moons.
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#40 Orpheus

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:14 AM

View PostNonny, on 29 December 2012 - 07:48 AM, said:

View PostRJDiogenes, on 28 December 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

^^  I will allow homesteading as long as there are no indigenous intelligent species. :lol:

I can see it now, tourists wearing Beam Me Up, Scotty, There's No Intelligent Life Down Here teeshirts. :D

Actually, given the proposed rule for homesteading (and the Prime Directive), it'd be more like:

"Beam me down, Scotty. There's no intelligent life down there."

Unless, of course, you're dealing with Earthlings. Like Camelot, 'tis a silly place.


View PostRJDiogenes, on 30 December 2012 - 06:29 PM, said:

Today's planet is in a similar situation to the last.  BD14 4559 b is a gas giant of 1.47 Jupiter masses that orbits a star 163 light years away.
When I read that, my jaw dropped. "What's its primary, a galactic black hole?"

Then I read "The star is 86% the mass of the sun," and my math lobe dangled out my ear like a brainworm, tied itself in a knot, and almost hanged itself before I figured out what you meant.

[Though, of course, it is entirely possible for a gas giant of 1.47 Jupiter masses to orbit a star of 0.86 solar masses at 163 light years -- if there are no other sizable masses for hundreds of light years. Even another planet or rogue body could mess up a gravitational link that frail. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if such systems *existed* in intergalactic space. They'd just be hard to distinguish from random floating stars and rogue planets. They'd only share a common velocity vector perpendicular to the orbit, in every other plane, their velocities would be different. It's the kind of bond Spock would derive great pleasure in proving]



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