- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
ScienceShot: Planets 'Sing' in Three-Part Harmony
2 July 2010 5:12 pm
Here's music of the spheres: Astronomers have found three planets orbiting a nearby star in resonance, which means their gravity has locked them into orbital periods that are simple multiples of one another. The planets line up every 124 days. Several two-planet resonances have long been known—for example, between Neptune and Pluto and between two planets orbiting a distant pulsar—but this is the first three-planet resonance ever seen. The planets orbit Gliese 876, a red dwarf 15 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius (an unrelated red dwarf system is pictured). Researchers discovered the star's first two resonant planets about a decade ago; their masses are similar to those of Jupiter and Saturn. Now, as astronomers will report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal, a third and smaller giant—similar in mass to Uranus—orbits beyond the others. The three planets are in a 4:2:1 resonance: the innermost giant completes four orbits in the time the middle one completes two and the newfound outermost world completes one. The resonance may date back to the planets' births and thus may yield insights into the formation of giant planets around other stars, including our sun.