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Planets around pulsars strange worlds of the dead stars
Planets around pulsars strange worlds of the dead stars
Imagine a planet rotating around a dead star. This world is awash in a deadly cocktail of X-rays and charged particles that are emitted by stars in the visible range is so weak that it is hardly cast a shadow on the surface of this world. It sounds like science fiction, but these strange worlds may actually exist.
We are constantly discovering more and more exoplanets around distant stars. We are pleased that many of them are similar to our Earth. However, it is easy to forget that the first extrasolar planets discovered were not at all similar to our home planet. The first extrasolar planet orbiting the pulsar detected by – stars that died long ago.
Pulsars are tiny corpses of once-mighty stars. It is kind of a rapidly rotating neutron star, a dense ball of strange matter, rich in neutrons, which is formed on the site of a large explosion of a supernova. At first glance they seem to be not the best place to look for planets. In truth, supernovae, we are in the list of the most bizarre objects in the universe – these are the events that are close to the apocalypse, volatile planets in orbits that are not fortunate enough to rotate around an exploded star.
Ironically, we know the mass of the planets that revolve around the strange and non-living suns. The first discovery was made a few decades ago in the pulsar PSR 1257 +12. Pulsars emit beams of the two streams of the northern and southern poles. And because the magnetic poles do not coincide with the axis of rotation of the neutron star, we see flashes whenever the beam is directed to us – both from the lighthouse on the horizon.
The pulses that are visible from Earth, so regular that it is possible to compare notes. Another good side – any change in the pulse timing is easy to detect. If the pulsar is a planet in tow, the tiny gravitational tug, superseding orbit, briefly but effectively.
PSR 1257 +12, by the way, is a millisecond pulsar. It spins so fast that tiny changes fairly easy to spot. Because of this, it became known that he is around three planets. Two of them – the super-Earths, one – a little more than the Earth’s moon. She was the smallest of the known extrasolar planets until recently .
Meanwhile, the other near the pulsar is a planet, known as PSR B1620-26 b. This is a true giant, two and a half times more massive than Jupiter, which, in principle, it is not surprising. PSR B1620-26 b is the oldest planet known to us. She is about 12.7 billion years old, and perhaps it is as old as the universe itself. It is called Methuselah, which leads to some thoughts.
Worlds like this are definitely “foreign” to us as very different from anything we know. It is difficult even to guess what they will close up. If they have an atmosphere, it can be full of dazzling auroras. The molecules in the atmospheres of such planets are constantly torn apart by bathing in streams of charged particles from the pulsar near where they circle. On the other hand, if the planet is no atmosphere, its surface will be “licked” by X-rays and is dead.
As for Methuselah, it is difficult to say for sure what will happen to the gas giant at 12 billion years. The giant planets in our own solar system is still cool. Jupiter is known to radiate more energy in the infrared spectrum than it receives from the sun. This process is called the heat of the Kelvin-Helmholtz and indicates that Jupiter is decreasing by about two centimeters a year. Throughout your life you will hardly notice this. But Methuselah older Jupiter 8 billion years.
Curiouser and curiouser
Tellingly, there is another, even more strange planet near the pulsar. PSR J1719-1438 b opened in 2011. It is believed that it is composed almost entirely of carbon, crystallized in a diamond. Technically, it is a white dwarf star is extremely small mass, mostly stolen from the nearest pulsar. The residue does not exceed the Jovian mass, thereby making the object is a planet than a star.
Such is the extraordinary story made of PSR J1719-1438 b planet. This is the most dense planet has ever detected, the pressure under the surface converts carbon into diamond. Sounds nice, but for future tourists of gravity on the planet will be enough to instantly flatten any of them. Of course, if they survive the pulsar radiation.
You probably have several times asked yourself interesting question whether the life near the pulsar? Frankly, it’s unlikely.
No one likes the word “impossible”, but the conditions near the pulsar is so hostile that a set of molecules, which we call “life”, immediately lose its meaning. Even if on such planets have a life, she would hide beneath the surface of his abode, and probably would have strikingly different from what we are used to seeing. Can, from our point of view it is not life.
Over the past few years, it has been found not so many planets around the pulsar, and some past observations have been challenged. However, the chances of finding another are high, because not many people are engaged in similar searches. Most researchers are searching for exoplanets. Thanks to the recently deceased “Kepler”, we have accumulated enough data for analysis.
However, there is evidence that older stars can go through a second path of planet formation. One of the pulsar 4U 0142 +61 was seen in the formation of the planetary disk around it. Given all this, it is necessary to believe that in our galaxy could be far more bizarre planets than our own solar system.
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Tags: Universe , Pulsars , Exoplanets .
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