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Star Rips Exoplanet To Shreds With X-Rays

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the you-always-hurt-the-ones-you-love dept.

Space 62

astroengine writes "Some relationships are doomed from the beginning, and the same can be said of some planetary systems. In the case of the star CoRoT-2a, some 880 light-years from Earth, it is quite literally ripping its orbiting exoplanet to shreds. Five million tons of material per second is being stripped from the closely orbiting world CoRoT-2b by powerful stellar X-rays. But it's OK, the destructive nature of this planetary system is mutual; CoRoT-2b's orbit is likely maintaining the high spin rate of the star, boosting magnetic activity, thus boosting the X-ray output."

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First post reserved for Dr. Bob (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403764)

Kind of a stretch, but I have faith you can do something with this.

Re:First post reserved for Dr. Bob (-1, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 years ago | (#37403866)

Which star was it? That behaviour sounds like Lady GaGa, following orders from Deborah Harry.

MEEPT!

Re:First post reserved for Dr. Bob (0)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 3 years ago | (#37404118)

You see, the sublaxitives get all built up in the stars, that's what we're made up of. So you must release these through the generous art of chiropractification. Hey bob, did I get it right?

I heard (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37403774)

There's a rumor going around that the Department of Homeland Security has ordered 10 of these, for the 10 busiest airports.

Re:I heard (0)

neonKow (1239288) | about 3 years ago | (#37404094)

Off topic: For some reason, when I read that, it made me think "...Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone".

that's not mutual destruction (1)

LordKronos (470910) | about 3 years ago | (#37403800)

But it's OK, the destructive nature of this planetary system is mutual; CoRoT-2b's orbit is likely maintaining the high spin rate of the star, boosting magnetic activity, thus boosting the X-ray output.

That's not mutual destruction. Mutual destruction would be if the planet were destroying the star at the same time.

Re:that's not mutual destruction (2)

cforciea (1926392) | about 3 years ago | (#37403878)

I think the idea is that forcing the star to emit a larger number of highly energetic x-rays is likely costing the star energy, which will lead to it dying somewhat earlier. By some metrics, that would count as damage.

Re:that's not mutual destruction (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#37403918)

TFA more accurately uses "negative reinforcement" rather than mutually destructive.

Re:that's not mutual destruction (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 years ago | (#37406258)

Negative reinforcement is even less accurate. Negative reinforcement is a training strategy that involves withholding a reward or removing something pleasurable.

Re:that's not mutual destruction (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | about 3 years ago | (#37403994)

It's the destructive nature that's mutual. In CoRoT-2b's planet, the nature just happens to be self-destructive.

she was warned (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403806)

I kept telling her that if she kept it up, she would pay for it...

but does CoRoT-2b ever listen to what i have to say? no. and now she's getting what she had coming.

Re:she was warned (0)

lazy genes (741633) | about 3 years ago | (#37403870)

reminds me of my second divorce

Re:she was warned (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404388)

2nd? Christ, give up.

Re:she was warned (0)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37404980)

Two divorces is a pretty good track record, considering the total number of nuns.

Re:she was warned (1)

aevan (903814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37407106)

*sniff* oh for a mod point...

OOOOOO!! I'M SO SCAAAARED !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403814)

Haha, ahahaha, ha-ha.. x-rays?

wow (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 3 years ago | (#37403852)

Literally tearing it apart with x-rays! That's a mind-boggling amount of energy.

Not so much wow, as a demonstration... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 3 years ago | (#37404054)

...of what could have been had Mercury been ten million miles or so closer to the Sun: considering how much energy the average Main Sequence yellow dwarf star is emitting (4E+26W), converting nearly 5 million tonnes of matter to energy every second, and that's before you start to consider mutual tidal forces exerted on the Sun by every other body in the Universe (obviously more pronounced for closer bodies such as solar system planets) which not only impart wobbles and bulges but also cause the sun to spin at differential and changing rates, though in the latter case to a much lesser extent than that caused by its own nature; the Sun is self-destructive but is is also mutually destructive to those closer bodies, saying that it is also constructive in that, for example, over billions of years a veneer of frozen helium 3 has formed and is persistent over the Lunar poles, and the thinnest of atmospheres of He3 is also present - this veneer is constantly replenished by a solar particle stream.

Re:Not so much wow, as a demonstration... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404748)

...of what could have been had Mercury been ten million miles or so closer to the Sun: considering how much energy the average Main Sequence yellow dwarf star is emitting (4E+26W), converting nearly 5 million tonnes of matter to energy every second,

Yes, but the vast majority of that misses a planet mercury's size even if it were plowing through the corona, and our Sun is not a very strong X-ray source. From TFS, it's my understanding that the sheer radiation pressure is causing bulk evaporation of the planet. From the inverse-square law, we could estimate that if Mercury lay 10 million miles closer than its 36 million mile (semi-major axis) orbit, it would receive about (36/26)^2 = 2 times as much solar radiation, or about 12x the Earth's.

and that's before you start to consider mutual tidal forces exerted on the Sun by every other body in the Universe (obviously more pronounced for closer bodies such as solar system planets) which not only impart wobbles and bulges but also cause the sun to spin at differential and changing rates,

And is irrelevant, since we're not talking about a planet inside its star's Roche limit being shredded, but radiation pressure from a strong X-ray star. Unless you're referring to the planet's tidal role in causing the radiation, which while strictly relevant is insignificant, because none of the planets have any effect compared to the mass of 3 Jupiters orbiting at 0.03AU separation.

though in the latter case to a much lesser extent than that caused by its own nature; the Sun is self-destructive but is is also mutually destructive to those closer bodies, saying that it is also constructive in that, for example, over billions of years a veneer of frozen helium 3 has formed and is persistent over the Lunar poles, and the thinnest of atmospheres of He3 is also present - this veneer is constantly replenished by a solar particle stream.

It's dangerous to go alone! Take these:
. . . . . . . . .
Seriously, do you not realize insane run-on sentences make you look like a fool? The period's really not any further from home row than the comma you use so bountifully...

Re:wow (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | about 3 years ago | (#37404220)

1.21 gigawatts to be exact

Re:wow (1)

bar-agent (698856) | about 3 years ago | (#37406312)

So, what would that look like in person? Assuming one could somehow survive on the surface to see.

Like dust blowing away in the wind? Embers in a fire? Smoke? Like those animations where the light glows through a body as it is ripped to shreds?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37407254)

Like a gas giant. With the upper atmosphere that's mostly transparent anyway extending off into space, merging with the solar wind outside the magnetosphere -- you'd need long exposures to see this.

Since there's no well-defined surface to survive on, I'm assuming you're looking at it from space -- if you were very deep in the atmosphere, it would look like the atmosphere of a gas giant, and you wouldn't be able to see far enough to catch the geometrical difference.

Been there, done that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37403946)

Sounds like my marriage.

Old news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404042)

Old news. This happened 880 years ago.

Re:Old news (1)

subanark (937286) | about 3 years ago | (#37404644)

I wonder how long it would take to strip the planet away, or at least to the point where it isn't affecting the star enough to produce the energy to do this? Maybe it still is around and it is still happening.

In any case time is relative.

Re:Old news (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406928)

Let's ask Mr. Owl!

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37408214)

THREE! -Mr Owl

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37405512)

But now, we have kids who can make it sound like the latest ultra-action-filled episode of pokemon.

Re:Old news (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408200)

Old news. This happened 880 years ago.

This is slashdot, of course it's old news.

Co-Dependancy (1)

thedbp (443047) | about 3 years ago | (#37404048)

Great, so self-destructive codependent behavior is a hard-coded facet of our physical universe. Now I can tell my therapist to fuck off, content in the knowledge that This Is How It's Supposed To Be. /joke

Sounds like Weber's warheads (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 3 years ago | (#37404084)

In the "Honor Harrington" series, David Weber uses X-Ray lasers, powered by fusion bombs, as missile warheads. As he describes it, at those energies, the laser does mechanical damage due to the momentum transfer (atoms literally pushed aside by the sheer force of the photon avalanche), not just ionization damage or forced fission events.

Sort of "Real Genius" on hyper-steroids.

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (2)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37404208)

Yeah, fission- or fusion-pumped X-ray lasers are a staple of military hard SF. Footfall [wikipedia.org] was full of them, right at the end, where somehow the US constructed a secret Project Orion [wikipedia.org] battleship with X-ray laser launchers and parasite fighters (Space Shuttles fitted with missile racks in the cargo bays). I call this hard SF, but the technologist inside me was screaming "FANTASY!" the whole time.

Anyway, speaking of fantasy masquerading as hard technology, SDI [wikipedia.org] was also supposed to build orbital nuke-pumped X-ray lasers as part of their "look down, shoot down" anti-ICMB system.

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404508)

I call this hard SF, but the technologist inside me was screaming "FANTASY!" the whole time.

Funny that we can conceive of advanced technologies yet at the same time those technologies can still boggle our minds.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37414110)

The technology wasn't making me scream "FANTASY!". It was the beyond-the-wildest-dream of transporting kilotons of steel, the material for hundreds of fission bombs, whole battleship main batteries, complete and intact Space Shuttles, and thousands of workers into a facility on the extreme Northwest Coast through a landscape devastated by kinetic-energy orbital bombardment, with perfect secrecy, under near-constant orbital observation and continued threat of more bombardment if the Snouts ever suspected war materials were on the move.

I actually thought Michael was an awesome concept, and I still do. It's just the deus ex machina thing of pulling together Earth's first orbital warship in months from the scavanged scrap of nearly-collapsed civilization and kicking the elephantine ass of an invading interstellar race that bothered me.

Of course, the whole premise of successfully kicking said alien ass depends on the extreme unlikelihood of it happening, so I guess that works out in the plot's favor.

Yeah, it was a good book. Just pretty wildly escapist and hand-waving towards the end.

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 years ago | (#37406294)

IIRC correctly, those were gamma lasers. I don't know what your "technologist's" problem was. Footfall didn't have any particularly unbelievable physics. Not even faster than light travel.

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37414198)

Yeah, all credit to Pournelle and Niven; the technology was feasible. Not the actual creation of an orbital space battleship in months, but the rest of it, sure. Even the alien tech was reasonable for the time (Bussard ramjets, various flavors of laser high-energy laser, hovercraft combat vehicles, centrifugal pseudo-gravity, self-contained biosphere including gardens and biomass recycling, even laser ablation launch).

The physics were impeccable. It's just the project management and logistics of building Michael that were pure fantasy.

Re:Sounds like Weber's warheads (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37416098)

It's amazing what you can do when you're faced with extinction. Also when you toss the safety regulations.

All in all a pretty small creative license and certainly nothing to take it out of the hard sci fi category and put it in fantasy.

If CoRoT-2a is a main sequence star... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 3 years ago | (#37404116)

...it could well buy time for itself considering that our own sun, a main sequence star of very average proportions, is converting not quite 5 million tonnes of matter to energy a second...

PC? (1)

tuck182 (43130) | about 3 years ago | (#37404142)

Are you really saying the planet was asking for it?

Re:PC? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 3 years ago | (#37405190)

yeah, the bitch had them hotpants ridin' up her crack 'n' all dat... sheeit.

Commence to modding down.

Astronomical first? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 years ago | (#37404376)

[quote]CoRoT-2b's orbit is likely maintaining the high spin rate of the star, boosting magnetic activity, thus boosting the X-ray output.[/quote] So, we've found the first suicidal planet?

37 millon years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404466)

Assuming the same weight as the earth, that's how long it would take to strip this.

The earth weights 5.9722 * 10^24 kg. That's 5,972,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. Or 5,972,200,000,000,000,000,000 ton. At five million tons per second, that'll take 1,194,440,000,000,000 seconds to strip. That's 13,824,537,037 days, or 37,850,296 years.

Eivind.

Re:37 millon years (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37404516)

But after even a few minutes, who will be left to worry about it?

Re:37 millon years (5, Informative)

Ruke (857276) | about 3 years ago | (#37404614)

COROT-2b is much, much larger than earth. It has a mass of approximately 3.31 times that of Jupiter, which itself is 317.83 times that of earth. (COROT-2b [wikipedia.org] ) Your estimate is off by about three orders of magnitude, assuming a constant rate of decay.

Re:37 millon years (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 3 years ago | (#37406292)

I started with a different weight for the earth, which I got from here: http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_kids/AskKids/earthweight.shtml [caltech.edu]

Otherwise, I'm in the same ballpark that the AC got:

13,170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Earth, in pounds
6.585E+21 Earth, in tons ( / 2000)

5000000 Rate of decay per second, in tons
1.317E+15 Seconds to eradicate Earth ("in tons" / "rate of decay per second")
2.195E+13 Minutes ( / 60)
3.65833E+11 Hours ( / 24 )
15243055556 Days ( / 365)
41761796.04 Years

Where are we off?

Re:37 millon years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37406428)

You're off in both making the complete bullshit asspull assumption that a hot jupiter weighs the same as the earth. It weighs 3 orders of magnitude more, so it'll take 3 orders of magnitude longer.

And don't even try "but he said, 'Assuming the same weight as the earth', so it's OK" -- you can't just make one asspull for one part of a problem and assume it remains the same problem. Once you reduce the mass by 1000, you reduce tidal forces similarly, and the planet is likely no longer capable of driving the same level of X-ray emissions in the first place.

Re:37 millon years (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408524)

Mass, not weight. If you're going to produce an estimate like this at least get the terminology right.

Some math (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37404652)

At 3.3 times the mass of jupiter, it's mass is about 6.2 * 10^27kg.

5 million tons = 5*10^9kg.

(6.2 * (10^27)) / (5 * (10^9)) = 1.24*10^18. It'll take that many seconds for the start to completely evaporate, assuming mass loss continues to be linear.

That's about 39 billion years, 2.8 times greater than the age of the universe.

The star (together with the planet) will die of something else long before the planet dies of this "ripping to shreds".

Re:Some math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406704)

"Ripped to shreds" ... more like "being tickled to death"

Re:Some math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37408726)

"Mildly exfoliated to death"

Wouldn't it slow down too? (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37408308)

As it goes on there's less mass for the X-Rays to interact with and blow off, so there rate should decrease.

Re:Some math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37410612)

I would imagine the rate will speed up exponentially. IANAA (I am not an astronomer), but as the mass of the exoplanet decreases, so does the gravitational hold on its material. So, I hypothesize that a continuous rate of mass stripping will increase over time the amount of mass that gets removed. I guess you can think of it like a piece of melting ice: under a continuous amount of heat, which will melt at a faster rate, an ice cube or a small ice chip?

Re:Some math (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37410970)

I would imagine the rate will speed up exponentially. IANAA (I am not an astronomer), but as the mass of the exoplanet decreases, so does the gravitational hold on its material. So, I hypothesize that a continuous rate of mass stripping will increase over time the amount of mass that gets removed. I guess you can think of it like a piece of melting ice: under a continuous amount of heat, which will melt at a faster rate, an ice cube or a small ice chip?

OTOH, as the size of the planet decreases there is less surface area being hit by x rays. But really how much do the astronomers even know about what IS happening now? They can measure the x-ray intensity of the star, they can probably measure the orbit of the planet (from the period) and the mass (from the effect on the star), but I would assume they have to guess at the size and composition of the planet, and I would think those would be relevant in determining the effect the xrays would have.

Re:Some math (1)

torgis (840592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37424822)

"Evaporation" of the planet might depend on surface area as well. The surface area of a sphere can be represented by A = 4*pi*r^2, so as r->0, A->0 as well. The smaller the planet gets, the smaller the surface area, obviously.

A second consideration would be the amount of matter ejected per second in relation to total mass of the planet, and whether this stays constant. TFA does not list the diameter of the planet in question.

Something along the lines of m = (matter ejected per second), A = 4*pi*r^2, so m/A = ejection rate. Graph ejection rate as a function of varying r. If we knew the diameter of the planet, we could establish a baseline for ejection rate. Another measurement of diameter and ejection rate would give us a rough number.

Celebrity status (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 years ago | (#37404666)

I hear that astronomers are planning to name the planet "Federline".

Global Warming Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37405012)

CoRoT-2b must decrease its CO2 emissions! Clearly the planet is at fault for its impending doom. Solar activity never has more than a minuscular effect on planetary temperatures.

Sliders (1)

suss (158993) | about 3 years ago | (#37406316)

I saw this in an episode of Sliders, only with Earth.

ooh ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406556)

naughty, naughty, naughty star !

Star? You mean "exosun", surely. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37407744)

Exoplanet is just exo- sorry, techno-babble. Are we still so tentative about the concept of planets around other stars that the word needs to be qualified? I'm fairly sure that Flash Gordon and Lensmen just visited regular old fantastical planets, not "exo" planets.

Re:Star? You mean "exosun", surely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37408654)

the "exo" prefix is to keep idiots from thinking the planets are orbiting the sun. It's short for "extra-solar".

It's her fault... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37408972)

CoRoT-2b was totally asking for it.

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