06 March 2013

Planets: of itnerest to space enthusiast types

I can't cite anything to prove the following points, but from my reading and inferring from what I've read about research into these areas, I believe the following is accurate.

Planets are everywhere. Not only are brown dwarfs (and non-nucleosynthetic L dwarfs, which really should be classed with the brown dwarfs), ... neither planet nor star but intermediate... far more common than all stars put together, but actual planets are more common even than that. 

1.  Essentially all stars have Kuyper and Oort "clouds" containing lots of stuff. Comets, small icy planets, some rocky and metal asteroids. Human exploitation of space will eventually focus on these resources, if we accomplish real space travel. Starting with our own Solar System. And stars are, first and foremost, abundant energy sources.

2.  Most stars have planets. The only ones
that don't (among the normal so-called 'dwarf' stars, which in Astronomese includes stars like the Sun) are the ones which have had their orbits disrupted by binary capture or other disruptive events (typically stars early on when close together in formative cluster come too close, eject the lowest mass star and form new pairs; this is quite common and probably throws most of the planetary disk out into space as well). (See this month's Scientific American which has an article about galactic star clusters and how this process enables some of them to expand without dispersing). (It's also true that massive stars, which form differently from former T Tauri type stars like the Sun and smaller dwarf stars, may usually lack planetary systems, but massive stars are rare and mostly very far away so they can be disregarded).

3.  That phenomenon, and less violent but even more common planetary ejection events, mostly in the early phases of star system development, mean that there are at least as many planets, both rocky and gas type, NOT associated with stars as that are. THESE are really everywhere.  

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