If you like space, or even gazing up at the night sky, the latest UT Astronomy Department project may capture your imagination.
Consider that 25 years ago, we knew of a single extrasolar planet. Now we know of nearly 2,400 awaiting confirmation. Such simulations will allow researchers to know where to look for more of them.
The process starts when a molecular cloud collapses into a young star. Over millions of years, the leftover gas and dust form a disk around the star, and the particulates within the disk collide and coalesce until a planet takes shape.
The computing center’s simulations factor in the turbulence and temperature of the disk over millions of years. In a disk that is too turbulent, the particles move too fast and bounce around. Less turbulence provides a greater chance for them to collide and stick together. Check out this cool video for more.
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J. F. Moreno:
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