You've heard of Moon Moon – that's what scientists call the satellite of a moon. But are you ready for Ploonets? That's better because we're here to tell you about this hypothetical new class of cosmic objects.
That's exactly what it sounds like: a kind of cross between a moon and a planet. And the presence of ploonets might explain why we have not yet found any distinct exoomoons.
A new publication submitted in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and still under peer review
Exomoons orbiting Jupiter exoplanets in other planetary systems could pass through Gravity interactions are thrown out of orbit.
From then on they could become planet seeds or protoplanets. Or … Ploonets.
"When giant migratory planets that are more stable (eg, in the solar system) form large exo-mons, research continues on what happens to those moons after migration," the researchers write.
"This article examines the scenario in which large regular exo moons escapes from the angular momentum with the superordinate planet and becomes small planets, and we call this hypothetical object type Ploonet ." 1
Astronomers believe that these planets have formed farther outward and wandered inward – since the conditions near the star are so hot, most of the gas would have burned away instead of concentrating on a planet.
If you had moons during migration, this movement inward would create additional gravitational forces between the moon and the planet.
Mario Sucerquia from the University of Antioquia in Colombia and his colleagues wanted to find out what these forces would do Numerous simulations of this walk, where the planet was accompanied by a moon.
They found that around 44 percent of their moons hit their planets and another 6 percent were eaten by the star. A very small number – 2 percent – has been completely banished from the planetary system.
The remaining 48 percent were separated from their planet, but remained in orbit around the star. These are the Ploonets.
Most ploonets – about 54 percent – would land farther from the star than their mother planet (outer ploonets) and about 14 percent would land on a nearer star orbit (inner ploonets). These can not be distinguished from a normal planet – maybe we have already seen some ploonets without even realizing it.
A whole bunch of them – 28 percent – land on very eccentric orbits that cross the planets (crossing ploonets), and the last 4 percent stay in the same or very close orbit as the planet (near Ploonets) , These could gravitationally interact with the planet and betray their presence by falsifying the time the planet passes in front of the star.
The moons that are eventually destroyed could explain some of the other things we've seen. For example, debris created by a collision with a planet can produce interesting ring systems.
When the moon is iced, it can turn into a swarm of vaporizing comets and leave a long tail, as we have seen as we circled the stars Kepler-1520 and KIC 11026764.
At the end of his life, a ploonet near the star experienced a series of simultaneous processes, such as surface sublimation and atmospheric vaporization, which inflated the atmosphere so that the planet appears much larger and hurls material into space.
Combined with the orbit of a planet's orbit, this can lead to non-periodic and very noisy light curves, as you can observe in the environment of KIC 8462852 Known as Tabby's Star or Boyajian's Star , Pretty wild, huh.
Of course, everything is hypothetical at this stage, and the term is not yet widespread …
But it's fascinating how little we know about the universe. We could even have ploonets here in the solar system. Maybe we'll just do one .
"The tidal strength of the earth gradually pushes the moon away from us at a speed of about 3 centimeters per year," said Sucerquia New Scientist . , "Therefore, the Moon is indeed a potential Ploonet once it reaches an unstable orbit."
The research results were submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and are available at arXiv.