Smaller planets are more likely to host fractional-size moons: study – Archyde

A new study shows that only certain types of planets can form moons larger than their parent planets. This can be a potentially beneficial trait to host life on this planet.

Miki Nakajima, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, and colleagues at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona ran computer simulations of the impact using a range of earth hypotheses. -like rocky planets and ice planets of different masses to find out if other planets can form large moons like Earth.

The researchers found that rocky planets larger than six Earth masses and icy planets larger than one Earth mass (1M) produced fully, not partially evaporated disks that failed to form fractional-sized moons.

After the collision, the disk cools and molten moons appear. According to the researchers, in a fully vaporized disk, moons growing on the disk experience a strong gas pull from the vapor and fall to the planet very quickly, but when the disk is only partially vaporized, the moon does not feel as much gas pull . .

“As a result, we concluded that the steam disk was completely incapable of forming large moons. The planet’s mass must be smaller than the threshold we have identified for the production of such moons,” Nakajima said.

The study could give astronomers who scan the universe for exoplanets – planets outside our solar system – and possible exomonds, moons orbiting exoplanets, a better idea of ​​where to look.

“The search for exoplanets usually focuses on planets larger than six Earth masses. We suggest that we look at smaller planets instead because they may be better candidates for relatively large moons.” to say Nakajima.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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