Misbehaving Planet Defies Current Accepted Laws Of Physics

About 330 light-years away, a giant planet, known as a “hot Jupiter,” is orbiting the star Wasp-18. Its ‘year’ or one orbit around Wasp-18 is less than one Earth Day. The problem? This planet should have been reduced to hot dust ages ago. Its too close, too big and traveling too fast to exist, at least according to the physics of orbital dynamics, the math used to map planets paths since the time of astronomer Johannes Kepler 400 years ago. The same math, build on Newtons Laws that all physics uses.

There are several possible solutions, but those seem to create more questions and put our understand of the galaxy in even more flux. One solution is that Wasp-18 isn’t as hot as we think it is, but this totally breaks our presumptions about how we judge the mass and energy of distant stars. Another is that this planet is new to its orbit, but that doesn’t it with our current understanding of the “tidal dissipation factor” which is the rate a orbiting body slows each time it circles its center object.

Or maybe we just don’t understand things as well as we claim.

How rare is it we find an orbiting body that doesn’t fit nicely into our current model? Interestingly enough, there is an example orbiting Mars, the planet closest to us. Mars’ moon, Phobos orbits at a distance that should have caused it to crash into Mars in about 30 million years. Our current estimates of our solar system is 4.5 billion years.

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