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Why massive stars host large planets

University researchers have discovered why large planets orbit massive stars. It’s because of the atmosphere of the planets.

the essentials in brief

  • It is known that more massive stars are orbited by larger planets.
  • The University of Zurich has now found out what this pattern is based on.
  • The researchers found that it is due to the planet’s atmosphere.

More massive stars are often orbited by larger planets. Astronomers already knew that. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now found out what this pattern is based on.

With the help of databases with thousands of exoplanets and computer models, the team determined that it was due to the atmosphere of the planets: Planets around more massive stars therefore have a larger atmosphere made up of light gases such as hydrogen and helium.

This is what the researchers report in the specialist magazine “Astronomy & Astrophysics”. They were able to rule out that the observed size patterns did not arise from the fact that the larger planets were hotter or more massive.

The researchers conclude that planets around larger stars can efficiently and quickly accumulate light gases during their formation. Because when the parent star grows and shines more intensely, the gas and dust that form planets begin to evaporate.

“The results not only help us to estimate which types of planets are likely to orbit a particular star, but could also help us to fill gaps in our understanding of planet formation.” That said the co-author and professor of computer astronomy at the University of Zurich, Ravit Helled, according to a communication from the university.

More on the subject:

University of Zurich stars


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