Earth-like planets could be quite common

Posted on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 14:11 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Scientists say that new computer models are telling them that more than a third of the star systems containing Jupiter-like gas giants may also harbor Earth-like planets.
The latest work focuses on a type of star system that contains gas giants known as hot Jupiters.

Unlike gas giants in our solar system, hot Jupiters have orbits that swing tightly around their stars, says Sean Raymond, study co-author and astrophysicist at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Scientists believe that hot Jupiters initially form far from their host stars. Over time the gas giants migrate inward due to the irregular twisting motions of the gaseous disks in which they formed.

As they move into their near-star orbits, hot Jupiters could be playing violent games of planetary billiards that produce Earthlike planets, he says.
Read on over at National Geographic.




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