Unexpectedly well-organized planetary systems

Categories: Cosmic Evolution

The distances between the planets in the Solar System can be approximately described by s principle dubbed the Titius-Bode relation. Image Credit: Spacestationinfo.com

Planetary systems orbiting other stars have been found to be more organised than our planetary system.

In fact, the way that they are arranged means that astronomers can use an old law to predict where new discoveries will be made.

More than 200 years ago it was found that the distances between the planets of our Solar System could be approximately described by a mathematical relation now known as ‘Bode’s Law’.

Since the law was not fully understood, many modern astronomers think ‘Bode’s Law’ is a meaningless coincidence.

However, ANU astronomers have applied it to new data from NASA’s Kepler satellite and found that planets orbiting other stars obey this law even more closely than the planets of our Solar System.

Charley Lineweaver, Senior Fellow at Australia National University’s Planetary Science Institute.

Tim Bovaird, PhD candidate and lead author of the study, said that the results mean that astronomers can now predict where planets should be. “Based on our predictions for the orbital periods, colleagues have been able to look more carefully at the Kepler data and have found half-a-dozen new planets where we predicted they would be,” said Boviard.

Convenor of Planetary Science Institute at ANU, Dr Charley Lineweaver, said "Bode’s Law is a bit of a taboo, like marrying your cousin.

“We prefer to call it the Titius-Bode relation because 1) Titius thought of it first and 2) it’s more of an organizing principle than a strict law.

“Our work shows that the Titius-Bode relation is definitely not a coincidence. It’s real, it’s just not an exact law."

Tim Bovaird and Charley Lineweaver ‘Exoplanet Predictions Based on the Generalised TItius-Bode Relation’ will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and can be found on-line at http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.3341

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