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Space & Astronomy

Two planets discovered sharing one orbit

By T.K. Randall
February 28, 2011 · Comment icon 32 comments



Image Credit: NASA
Kepler has found something unlike anything seen before - two planets sharing the same orbit.
The two planets orbit their parent star every 9.8 days but don't collide because one is 60 degrees ahead of the other. The discovery has bolstered the theory that our moon was formed following a collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized body at some point in the distant past.
Buried in the flood of data from the Kepler telescope is a planetary system unlike any seen before. Two of its apparent planets share the same orbit around their star.


Source: New Scientist | Comments (32)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #23 Posted by danielost 12 years ago
Unfortunately this wouldn't work for planet sized objects. There is something called the Roche Limit. From Wikipedia: Source: Wikipedia Although generally used to calculate how close a moon can get too it's primary planet before being ripped apart and becoming rings, the same forces would apply to two planet sized objects closely approaching each other, unlike the Saturnian moons, the planets almost certainly would not survive such a close encounter. they wouldnt have to get that close to affect each other gravitily. although they may have to get close enough to rip each others atmo off. besid... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by HerNibs 12 years ago
Unfortunately this wouldn't work for planet sized objects. There is something called the Roche Limit. From Wikipedia: Source: Wikipedia Although generally used to calculate how close a moon can get too it's primary planet before being ripped apart and becoming rings, the same forces would apply to two planet sized objects closely approaching each other, unlike the Saturnian moons, the planets almost certainly would not survive such a close encounter. This is really cool. Got some questions - I need the answers dumbed down for me. How far away from each other are these planets (on their orbit)?... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by MaTrIxLike 12 years ago
crazyyyyy
Comment icon #26 Posted by BrandOfAmber 12 years ago
#18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 February, 2011, 23:28 Unfortunately this wouldn't work for planet sized objects. There is something called the Roche Limit. From Wikipedia: Source: Although generally used to calculate how close a moon can get too it's primary planet before being ripped apart and becoming rings, the same forces would apply to two planet sized objects closely approaching each other, unlike the Saturnian moons, the planets almost certainly would not survive such a close encounter. While that is true Waspie Dwarf, one must remember the timescale of such occurrances, and that the e... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by BrandOfAmber 12 years ago
Got some questions - I need the answers dumbed down for me. How far away from each other are these planets (on their orbit)? Opposite each other? Do the both rotate in the same direction? Nibs Nibs - No they are not in an opposite rotation. Planet 1 is 60 degrees ahead of Planet 2, in a 360 degree rotation (which is of course, elliptical...) They do orbit their star in the same direction (which is typical), and they share the same plane on that rotation. It's pretty freakin cool! -Brand
Comment icon #28 Posted by Francisco Fidalgo 12 years ago
Got some questions - I need the answers dumbed down for me. How far away from each other are these planets (on their orbit)? Opposite each other? Do the both rotate in the same direction? Nibs Nibs - No they are not in an opposite rotation. Planet 1 is 60 degrees ahead of Planet 2, in a 360 degree rotation (which is of course, elliptical...) They do orbit their star in the same direction (which is typical), and they share the same plane on that rotation. It's pretty freakin cool! -Brand Being 60 degrees apart from each other doesn't grant a colliding proof system, or does it? It just means tha... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Torgo 12 years ago
Being 60 degrees apart from each other doesn't grant a colliding proof system, or does it? It just means that they are orbiting in the same orbit till one smashes onto the other. For that not to happen didn't they need to have the exact same mass, rotation and orbiting speed? This is amazing The points 60 degrees ahead/behind an object in the same orbit are stable Lagrange points - an object placed there will stay there unless it gets a moderately large amount of energy, like an object that has to roll out of a depression in the ground. A small disturbance will just cause it to oscillate aroun... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by danielost 12 years ago
Got some questions - I need the answers dumbed down for me. How far away from each other are these planets (on their orbit)? Opposite each other? Do the both rotate in the same direction? Nibs Nibs - No they are not in an opposite rotation. Planet 1 is 60 degrees ahead of Planet 2, in a 360 degree rotation (which is of course, elliptical...) They do orbit their star in the same direction (which is typical), and they share the same plane on that rotation. It's pretty freakin cool! -Brand i think the question was if they revolve in the same direction, ie day and night.
Comment icon #31 Posted by purplepsyche 12 years ago
Awesome. I think what inspires us to seek further, is this innate desire to know it all, which we never shall else the journey is over because we'll go extinct from mere boredom.
Comment icon #32 Posted by StarMountainKid 12 years ago
Here's an applet of planets orbiting around Lagrangian points. It's the 5th applet from the top of the page. http://burtleburtle.net/bob/physics/kempler.html


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