Astronomers have discovered seven planets related to gravity «chain»

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Alaninaminotransferase rotation of the seven planets in the system are TRAPPIST-1Astronomers have discovered seven planets related to gravity «chain»© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

. New observations of the planets of the system TRAPPIST-1, the greatest «family» twins of the Earth, showed that the rotation of all seven of them synchronized with each other because of gravitational interactions between them, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

In may last year, astronomers from MIT announced the discovery of a very unusual star system in the neighborhood of the Earth – TRAPPIST-1 remote from us only 40 light-years towards the constellation of Aquarius. All three planets orbiting this red dwarf star, are inside the so-called «zone of life», where water can exist in liquid form, and presumably have a mass comparable to earth’s.

Later, scientists studied a range of rays of the star TRAPPIST-1, trying to study the atmospheric composition of its planets, and suddenly found that they are actually not three but seven, and six of them are within the areas of life. All these planets have almost «earthly» size and have the Mars or the earth’s climate, except for the first planet, TRAPPIST-1b are more similar to Venus than Mars or the Earth.

Rodrigo Luger (Rodrigo Luger) from the University of Washington in Seattle (USA) and his colleagues watched this «planetary family» with the telescope «Kepler», followed the constellation Aquarius from December 2016 to March this year. Scholars interested in whether there are in this star system, other planets, and they tried to study the orbit of the last planet, TRAPPIST-1h, which its discoverers had seen only once.

These observations revealed a curious phenomenon came out: the rotation of all planets around the stars were in sync. For example, the planet TRAPPIST-1b made two turns during the time that her «roommate» TRAPPIST-1c spent on a single pass of the orbit, TRAPPIST-1h flew red dwarf for 13 years at TRAPPIST-1b, and so on. Watching this «cosmic ballet», the scientists were able to calculate the exact duration of the year on the last planet — 18.77 day, and determine its radius is three-quarters of the earth.

As the scientists explain, the gravitational interaction of planets, stars and small celestial bodies often leads to the fact that they begin to rotate around each other or around some other object with a strict mathematical basis. The best example was the trio of satellites of Jupiter – Ganymede, Europa and IO. For a while, while Ganymede makes one revolution around the giant planet, Europa makes exactly two turns in its orbit, and IO is four.

Such a «cosmic ballet» is not accidental – orbit resonances are the product of a complex gravitational interactions between the planets, thanks to which astronomers can learn some details from the past of the Solar system and aksamitov, based on known examples are «dancing in space».

The mysteries of life

From this point of view, as told by Luger and colleagues, TRAPPIST-1 is a unique find because the chain of such a large number of the synchronized planets, as scientists previously believed, occur only in the early stages of forming planetary systems. Accordingly, the study of these «seven sisters» can help us to understand why such gravitational decay «chains» and how they affect the size, mass and other properties of the planets and the disk in which they were born.

For example, scientists believe that such close relations between the planets from the TRAPPIST-1 preserved for the reason that the disk in which they were born, had a relatively small mass, causing the planet’s migrated in the direction of the red dwarf slowly.

The main consequence of the «dancing in space» for the planets, as explained by the Luger, is that their bowels are heated under the action of tidal forces caused by their gravitational interactions. Because of this they four near to the star, the planet produce significantly more heat than the Earth, despite the dullness and the coldness of the stars TRAPPIST-1.

Despite this, the last planet of the system, TRAPPIST-1h unlikely to support life – it gets about a third less heat than Earth, and liquid water it can exist only if its surface is covered by a thick ice crust with a thickness of 2.8-3 km.

On the other hand, scientists were able to find only one flash on the surface of the star during the observations, which is about 40 times smaller than other red dwarfs. This significantly increases the probability that these planets have a atmosphere and what a potential life on their surface was not destroyed by a powerful manifestation of the activity of their stars.

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Astronomers have discovered seven planets related to gravity «chain»

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Alaninaminotransferase rotation of the seven planets in the system are TRAPPIST-1Astronomers have discovered seven planets related to gravity «chain»© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

. New observations of the planets of the system TRAPPIST-1, the greatest «family» twins of the Earth, showed that the rotation of all seven of them synchronized with each other because of gravitational interactions between them, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

In may last year, astronomers from MIT announced the discovery of a very unusual star system in the neighborhood of the Earth – TRAPPIST-1 remote from us only 40 light-years towards the constellation of Aquarius. All three planets orbiting this red dwarf star, are inside the so-called «zone of life», where water can exist in liquid form, and presumably have a mass comparable to earth’s (more…)