Giant planets piling up in certain regions rather than in regular orbits mystery explained

By on Mar 20, 2012 in Astronomy, Europe, Science Comments

The mystery behind giant planets being piling up in certain regions rather than in regular orbits has reportedly been explained during computer simulations made by a team of British astronomers.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As noted by University of Leicester on its official website on Monday, March 19, 2012, a recent study have revealed the reason why giant planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn prefer certain regions while staying clear of others.

According to the report, the study, which also appeared at journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, was conducted by astronomers Richard Alexander of the University of Leicester in UK and Ilaria Pascucci of the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

“Our models offer a plausible explanation for the pile-ups of giant planets observed recently detected in exoplanet surveys,” Alexander was quoted at, whose work with Pascucci revealed that powerful ultraviolet and X-ray emissions from the star tend to carve out empty spaces.

“Our results show that the final distribution of planets does not vary smoothly with distance from the star, but instead has clear ‘deserts’ – deficits of planets – and ‘pile-ups’ of planets at particular locations,” Pascucci was quoted as saying.

“For a long time, it was assumed that the process of accreting material from the disk onto the star was enough to explain the thinning of the protoplanetary disk over time,” Pascucci added.

Based on their series of experiments, observations of real solar systems have shown, clouds of gas and dust swirl around young stars and provide the raw materials for planets before they finally settle on a constant orbit around their star.

Apparently, this phenomenon happens because as the star draws in material from the protoplanetary disk, the planets are dragged along, similar to a celebrity being caught in a crowd of fans.

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