Strange mystery of ‘disappearing’ planets across the universe may be solved : ScienceAlert

Strange mystery of ‘disappearing’ planets across the universe may be solved : ScienceAlert

Today, the number of confirmed exoplanets is 5,197 in 3,888 planetary systemswhile another 8,992 candidates are awaiting confirmation.

Most were particularly massive planets, ranging from Jupiter and Neptune-sized gas giants, which have a radius about 2.5 times that of Earth.

Others statistically significant the population was rocky planets measuring about 1.4 Earth radii (known as ‘super-Earths’).

This presents a mystery to astronomers, especially where the exoplanets he discovered are respected Kepler Space Telescope are worried.

Of the more than 2,600 planets discovered by Kepler, there is an apparent rarity of exoplanets with a radius of about 1.8 times that of Earth—what they call the “valley radius.”

Planet size diagram
Illustration showing the scarcity of exoplanets about 1.8 times the size of Earth observed by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. (A. Isidoro/Rice University)

Another mystery, known as the “pea in a pod,” concerns neighboring planets of similar size found in hundreds of planetary systems with harmonic orbits.

In a study he led Cycles of vital volatile elements in rocky planets (CLEVER) at Rice University, an international team of astrophysicists provides a new model it explains the interplay of forces acting on the newborn planets that could explain these two mysteries.

The research was led by André Izidoro, Rice’s NASA-funded Welch postdoctoral fellow CLEVER Planets project. He was joined by fellow CLEVER Planets researchers Rajdeep Dasgupta and Andrea Isella, Hilke Schlichting from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Christian Zimmermann and Bertram Bitsch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA).

As they describe in their research paper, which recently appeared in Astrophysical Journal Lettersthe team used a supercomputer to run a planetary migration model that simulated the first 50 million years of planetary system development.

In their model, protoplanetary disks of gas and dust also interact with the migrating planets, pulling them closer to their parent stars and locking them into resonant orbital chains.

Within a few million years, the protoplanetary disk disappears, breaking the chains and causing orbital instabilities that cause two or more planets to collide. While planetary migration models have been used to study planetary systems that have retained orbital resonances, these findings represent a first for astronomers.

As Isidoro said at Rice University statement: “I believe we are the first to explain the radius valley using a model of planet formation and dynamical evolution that self-consistently takes into account multiple observational constraints.

“We are also able to show that a model of planet formation involving giant impacts is consistent with the pea-in-a-pod exoplanet property.”

This work builds on Izidor’s previous work and the CLEVER Planets project. Last year, they used a migration model to calculate the maximum disturbance in the seven-planet TRAPPIST-1 system.

In a paper published on November 21, 2021 Natural astronomy, used an N -body simulation to show how this “pea in a pod” system was able to maintain its harmonic orbital structure despite collisions caused by planetary migration. This allowed them to place limits on the upper limit of the collision and the mass of the objects involved.

Their results show that the collisions in the TRAPPIST-1 system were comparable to the impact that created the Earth-Moon system.

Izidoro said: “The migration of young planets towards their host stars creates overcrowding and often results in cataclysmic collisions that strip the planets of their hydrogen-rich atmospheres.

“This means that giant impacts, like the one that formed our moon, are probably a generic result of planet formation.”

This latest research suggests that planets come in two varieties, consisting of dry and rocky planets that are 50 percent larger than Earth (super-Earths) and water-ice-rich planets about 2.5 times the size of Earth (mini-Neptunes ).

In addition, they suggest that a fraction of planets twice the size of Earth will retain their original hydrogen-rich atmospheres and be rich in water.

According to Isidore, these results are consistent with new observations that suggest that super-Earths and mini-Neptunes are not exclusively dry and rocky planets.

These discoveries present an opportunity for exoplanet researchers, who will rely on the James Webb Space Telescope to conduct detailed observations of exoplanet systems.

Using its advanced suite of optics, infrared imaging, coronagraphs and spectrometers, Webb and other next-generation telescopes will characterize exoplanet atmospheres and surfaces like never before.

This article was originally published by The universe today. Read it original article.

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