Planets shaped like “Smarties” candies.. Enchanting scenes

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK have found that newly formed planets may have a flat shape similar to European Smarties candies.

Using computer simulation, the team observed that small planets within dense gas disks around stars took shapes that challenged previous assumptions of them being spherical, instead appearing as flattened semi-spherical objects.

This discovery challenges traditional theories of planet formation and may shed light on the birth and early development of planets, including outer planets.

The study, published in the journal “Letters in Astronomy and Astrophysics,” focused on the underlying mechanisms of giant gas planet formation such as Jupiter, and investigated how primitive shapes could facilitate planet growth.

The results they obtained support the theory of “disk instability” for planet formation, where planets form rapidly from primordial planet disks that break apart into pieces, rather than through the gradual accumulation of dust particles (core accretion).

This theory suggests that large planets can form quickly at significant distances from their host stars, explaining some observations about outer planets. The team’s model suggests that newly formed planets take on flattened spherical shapes because materials falling onto them primarily accumulate at their poles, meaning the appearance of young outer planets observed from Earth may vary depending on their orientation to us, and observations using telescopes like (ALMA) could provide evidence supporting this theory.

To move forward, the team plans to conduct further investigations into planet formation using an enhanced computer model, with the aim of understanding how the planetary environment affects formation and shape.

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