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Author Topic: "Suicidal" planet spirals towards its star...  (Read 761 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 27, 2009, 12:36:58 PM »

Suicidal planet seems on death spiral into star



http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090826/ap_on_sc/us_sci_suicidal_planet

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer – Wed Aug 26, 1:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet.

The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet's zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star.

The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star.

It's a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier's report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

"It's causing its own destruction by creating these tides," Hellier said.

The star is called WASP-18 and the planet is WASP-18b because of the Wide Angle Search for Planets team that found them.

The planet circles a star that is in the constellation Phoenix and is about 325 light-years away from Earth, which means it is in our galactic neighborhood. A light-year is about 5.8 trillion miles.

The planet is 1.9 million miles from its star, 1/50th of the distance between Earth and the sun, our star. And because of that the temperature is about 3,800 degrees.

Its size — 10 times bigger than Jupiter — and its proximity to its star make it likely to die, Hellier said.

(Click the above link for the rest of the article)
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2009, 02:04:53 PM »

1 million  years before the planet's destruction?  Probably the slowest suicide ever.
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2009, 02:11:51 PM »

1 million  years before the planet's destruction?  Probably the slowest suicide ever.

Accompanied by the one from The Sorrows of Young Werther.
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2009, 11:48:58 PM »

Size, proximity and even plasma tides are not likely to cause the planet's orbit to decay if its orbit is in a vacuum. It would need to be in contact with something that is going to slow its orbit down (like the Star's atmosphere).
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