Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets

Date:
June 2, 2014
Source:
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Summary:
Two worlds orbiting a distant star are about to become a snack of cosmic proportions. Astronomers announced that the planets Kepler-56b and Kepler-56c will be swallowed by their star in a short time by astronomical standards. Their ends will come in 130 million and 155 million years, respectively.

In this artist's conception, the doomed world Kepler-56b is being tidally shredded and consumed by its aging host star. New research shows that Kepler-56b will be engulfed by its star in about 130 million years, while its sibling Kepler-56c will be swallowed in 155 million years. This is the first time that two known exoplanets in a single system have a predicted "time of death."
Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Two worlds orbiting a distant star are about to become a snack of cosmic proportions. Astronomers announced today that the planets Kepler-56b and Kepler-56c will be swallowed by their star in a short time by astronomical standards. Their ends will come in 130 million and 155 million years, respectively.

"As far as we know, this is the first time two known exoplanets in a single system have a predicted 'time of death,'" says lead author Gongjie Li of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

She presented her research today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The Kepler-56 system provides a glimpse into the future of our solar system. In about five billion years our Sun will become a red giant star, swelling to immense proportions and engulfing Mercury and Venus.

The star Kepler-56 is becoming a red giant star as well. It already has ballooned out to four times the Sun's size. As it ages, it will continue to expand outward. Not only will the star grow larger, but its tides will get stronger, dragging its planets inward to their eventual doom.

Kepler-56b orbits its host star once every 10.5 days, while Kepler-56c orbits every 21.4 days. Both of them are much closer to their star than Mercury is to the Sun. As a result, they will meet their fate much faster. Li and her collaborators calculated the evolution of both the star's size (using the publicly available MESA code) and the planets' orbits to predict when the planets will be destroyed.

Even before they vanish, the two planets will be subjected to immense heating from the steadily growing star. Their atmospheres will begin to boil off, and the planets themselves will be stretched into egg shapes by stellar tides.

The only survivor in the system will be Kepler-56d, a gas giant planet circling in a 3.3-Earth-year orbit. It will watch from a safe distance as its two sibling worlds meet their demise.

The Kepler-56 planetary system also is notable for being the first "tilted" multiplanet system to be discovered. The orbits of the inner two planets are tipped significantly from the star's equator. This was unexpected since planets form from the same disk of gas and dust as the star, so they should orbit in nearly the same plane as the star's equator (as do the planets in our solar system).

The team was able to better constrain the tilt of these planets, compared to earlier work. They found that the most probable tilt was either 37 or 131 degrees.

Li and her colleagues also investigated the inclination of the outer planet and determined that its orbit is likely to be tilted relative to the star as well. Future observations should help astronomers to characterize this system, and to explain how it became so skewed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602115835.htm>.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. (2014, June 2). Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602115835.htm
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602115835.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins