Monday, August 31, 2009

More on the Planet That Can't Exist

John Johonson Jr. over at the LA Times has a story on the new exoplanet orbiting WASP-18 that explicates a bit more on why the planet is so dang weird:
The problem is that a planet that close should be consumed by its parent star in less than a million years, say the authors at Keele University in Britain. The star Wasp-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and because stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, Wasp-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago.

"This planet should spiral inwards on such a short time scale that the likelihood of seeing it is very low," said Coel Hellier, an astrophysicist at Keele.

"That's a paradox," said Douglas P. Hamilton, an astronomer at the University of Maryland who wrote a commentary accompanying the report. He said there were a variety of possible explanations, none of them very satisfactory.

"It's like going to the scene of the crime and not finding the weapon," he said. "Something's happened, but a key piece of evidence is missing."
Curiouser and Curiouser. I love science in action.

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