New Discovery Casts Doubt on How the Solar System Formed

In the article, “New Discovery Casts Doubt on How the Solar System Formed,” astronomers have discovered a new type of star system that makes us completely question the formation of the solar system. This new system is known as a binary-binary meaning it has two stars orbiting each other exceptionally close to each other, like a normal binary system, but the primary star also has two enormous objects in its own orbit. This is the first and only binary-binary system discovered and may suggest we may be wrong about how solar systems come to be. The original theory of how solar systems are created has been questioned many times, especially because of Pluto and its strange orbit. Most scientists theorize that our solar system was formed from a collapsed disk shape gaseous cloud (protoplanetary disk) around our sun. If Pluto were to form from this disk, then it is very strange that it is orbiting on a different plane. The binary-binary system challenges this theory because the two objects orbiting the primary star would have gathered much more dust and gas than would be possible.

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The two stars are 22 A.U. apart from each other with the primary star 12% larger than our star while the other being 10% less massive. The two structures orbiting the larger star is a giant planet twelve times more massive than Jupiter  with the other being a brown dwarf that is 57 times larger than Jupiter being between only 0.1 and 1.5 A.U. from their star. A release from the University of Florida explains “For such large companion objects to be stable so close together defies our current popular theories on how solar systems form.” It is still too soon to decide whether our idea of understanding the solar system needs to be changed or not, as it can be the case that something entirely different is going on in that binary-binary system.

Before reading this article, I never knew two stars could orbit each other. It is strange to think about two stars being in orbit with one another since our solar system as well as any others that I have heard about only have planets or meteors and asteroids in orbit, but never another star. Because the two stars are close to one another, I wonder what the shape the two large object’s orbit is like if they still follow and ellipse as in our solar system. It is astounding that the primary star is housing a brown dwarf that is 57 times larger than our biggest planet Jupiter. Even with how large both structures are, they are about the same distance to their star as Earth is to the Sun. Which seems strange because in our solar system all the planets that are close to the sun are quite small in comparison to the farther gaseous planets. This article challenges our 10th conceptual objective. We learned in class that the solar system was formed from a Protoplanetary disk which is a cloud of dense gas and dust that surrounds a young star. This disk eventually collapses causing the dust and gases to condense which thus forms the planets. However, we also learned that the planets that form closer to the sun will be rocky planets whereas planets that are farther away will be gaseous. This is due to the temperature.

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As can be seen in the graph from our lecture-tutorial notes, the first four planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are all rocky planets while Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are gaseous. The rocky planets form when the temperatures are above water boiling point (373 Kelvin) while Gaseous planets form at temperatures coolers freezing point (273 Kelvin.) The gaseous planets form from the cold temperatures causing the gases to become more dense and form the gaseous clouds that are now Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus and Neptune. But this is where our Theory is questioned because of Pluto. Pluto is next in line after Neptune, meaning that the temperature is even colder yet Pluto is a rocky planet. So it is quite a mystery why Pluto is in the orbit that it is but not a gaseous planet. I wonder if in the future classes will be teaching a different theory of how our solar system was formed.

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