Monday, September 15, 2008

Sighting a New World

Using our Gemini North telescope atop Mauna Kea, astronomers may have the first photograph of a planet orbiting a sunlike star. Star 1RXS J160929.1-210524 is 500 light-years from Earth. The planet has about 8 times the mass of Jupiter and an orbit approximately 330 astronomical units in diameter. Current models of planet formation can not explain a giant planet orbiting so far from its primary. The gaseous disk that is thought to precede solar system formation would be thin indeed.

If this planetary object formed around a primordial Black Hole, the singularity would gather mass even from a thinnest disk. The Black Hole would be too small to ignite the fusion of a sun, but large enough to produce a Jupiter-like object. This planet's estimated temperature is around 1500 degrees C, possibly indicating an internal source of heat.

Last week's operation of the LHC led to some silly fears about Black Holes. Even if a Black Hole existed inside Earth, we would not be sucked up. Outward radiation pressure would balance gravity's inward pull until an equilibrium was achieved. Presence of a Black Hole would cause Earth to have internal heat and a magnetic field whose poles do not coincide with the geographic poles. Makes one think, does it not?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you ever bow your head and cry at the hugeness of it all?
the more we learn about space and the forces within it, the less any human quality seems to matter.
it is bleak and vast. I am only bleak.
but daily more vast at the waist.

8:38 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

The Universe is big, but it makes one feel good to understand it.

3:11 AM  

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