Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Binary Stars and Their Planets

  1. Jun 12, 2009 #1
    I have a question regarding binary or multiple star systems and their [hypothetical] orbiting planets. I am curious if it is common (or even possible) for one or more of the orbiting planets to constantly switch the star they are orbiting, as in a figure eight shape. Can the stars "trade the planet" back and forth, as if juggling the planet? If so, are there any notable examples of this happening? I really don't know much about how this all works, I start my first year physics course this fall in school.

    I hope the question makes sense, if not, ask me and I will try and clarify some.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2009 #2

    Astronuc

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Only if the planet(s) would cross the Lagrange point between the stars. Usually however, planets are much closer to one of the stars.

    There are a few binaries known to have planets, e.g., Gliese 777 and Gamma Cephei (γ Cephei)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_777
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_Cephei

    Some astronomers think there is a chance that Alpha Centauri could have planets
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Cenaturi#Possibility_of_planets

    Thebault, P., Marzazi, F., Scholl, H.. "Planet formation in the habitable zone of alpha centauri B". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0811.0673

    But there is an issue of stability of planets in orbit around binary systems.
    M. Barbieri, F. Marzari, H. Scholl (2002). "Formation of terrestrial planets in close binary systems: The case of α Centauri A". Astronomy & Astrophysics 396: 219 – 224.
    http://www.aanda.org/index.php?option=article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/0004-6361:20021357

    See this paper with respect to the search for substellar (planetary) masses around stars
    Campbell, B., Walker, G. A. H., & Yang, S., A search for substellar companions to solar-type stars
    http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1988ApJ...331..902C
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  4. Jun 12, 2009 #3
    Cool, thanks for the info.

    Is figuring out the orbit of these planets around these stars a matter of relativity equations or something?

    I have seen computer programs that model galaxy collisions, are there also programs that model planetary orbits, one that could potentially model this specific case? I don't know why this came to me, but the idea of a planet being juggled betwixt two or more stars just seems like a fascinating scenario. Am I alone in this?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Binary Stars and Their Planets
  1. Binary star (Replies: 19)

  2. Binary Planets (Replies: 11)

  3. Binary Planets (Replies: 22)

Loading...