LifestyleBaby Exoplanets: Are They Shaped like Smarties

Baby Exoplanets: Are They Shaped like Smarties

Exciting New Study Shows Emerging Planets in Smarties-Like Shapes

A recent study has revealed that newly forming planets may have a unique flattened shape resembling that of a popular British candy. Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in England utilized computer simulations to model the formation of planets within dense gas disks surrounding young stars. Surprisingly, the team found that these planets took on oblate spheroid shapes instead of the expected spherical form.

The UCLan research team, led by astrophysicist Dimitris Stamatellos, discovered that the planets resembled oblate spheroids, similar to the shape of Smarties candies. The European version of Smarties, which consist of oblate spheroid-shaped chocolate disks covered in a colorful candy shell, served as the perfect analogy for these newly forming planets.

While astronomers have identified over 5,000 exoplanets, the precise sequence of events leading to their birth and early development remains a mystery. This new research could provide valuable insights into the planet formation process, shedding light on the mechanisms at play.

Examining the formation of gas giant planets like Jupiter, the UCLan team focused on the initial shapes of these planets and their role in facilitating planetary growth. They explored both the core accretion model, where dust particles gradually accumulate to form larger objects, and the disk instability method, where planets form rapidly from broken protoplanetary discs.

According to Adam Fenton from UCLan, the disk instability theory holds promise as it offers a mechanism for the rapid formation of large planets at significant distances from their host stars. The team’s findings support this alternative model, suggesting that planets can take on oblate spheroid shapes as material accumulates at their poles.

One key takeaway from the study is that the appearance of young exoplanets as seen from Earth may vary based on their orientation. By studying the shapes of these emerging planets, scientists can gain valuable insights into the dynamics of planet formation.

Overall, this groundbreaking research has provided a fresh perspective on planet formation and highlighted the intriguing similarities between these cosmic objects and beloved confectionaries. Readers can delve deeper into the study to uncover more fascinating details about the shaping of infant exoplanets.

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