Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Planetary Formation Around a Binary Star

By David Reneke

Astronomers take a close look at planetary formation around a binary star and examine one of the biggest stars in our galaxy.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Credit: Andrea Isella/Rice University/B Saxton/NRAO/ AUI/NSF/ALMA/ESO

Astronomers have always struggled to understand how planets form in binary star systems. Early models suggested that the gravitational tug-of-war between two stellar bodies would send young planets into eccentric orbits, possibly ejecting them completely from their home system or crashing them into each other. Observational evidence, however, reveals that planets do indeed form and maintain surprisingly stable orbits around double stars.

To better understand how such systems evolve, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a new, detailed look at the planet-forming disc around HD 142527, a binary star about 450 light-years from Earth in a cluster of young stars known as the Scorpius–Centaurus Association.

The HD 142527 system consists of a main star a little more than twice the mass of our Sun...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.