Moons around ‘hot Jupiter’ can’t exist due to gravitational pullsPublished On: Wed, Aug 18th, 2010 | Science | By BioNews
A new study has shown that any moons around the distant large planets would be stripped away by gravitational pulls.
A study by astronomer Fathi Namouni, with the Université de Nice in France, shows that as a giant Jupiter migrates inward toward its solar system, any moons in tow would be stripped away or destroyed by the gravitational tug-of-war between the planet and the mother star.
“Moons become unstable as the planet’s sphere of influence shrinks,” Discovery News quoted Namouni as saying.
These planets are termed ‘hot Jupiter’ because of their large size and close proximity to their parent stars.
Computer simulations show that outlying moons would be catapulted beyond a planet”s orbit, while inner moons would smash into the planet and be destroyed.
The study is an opportunity to refine techniques for when planets in more hospitable orbits are discovered – it may lead to finding an Earth-sized rocky moon in tow may be well suited for life to form.
Namouni”s research is being published in the Aug. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.