The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Could an Earth-like planet possibly have a whole bunch of rings?  (Read 1641 times)

Offline xaphlactus

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
I have a few more ideas I would like to verify with you science gurus:

-A: Could an Earth-like planet possibly have a whole bunch of rings (starting around the equator, they stratify into distinct rings up and down the planet)?

-B: How might a binary star system affect this planet if it was comprised of a small star orbiting a larger star?
   -B1:Could it be possible for these stars to have special light that, when the smaller one eclipses the larger one, the light would blind humans, causing shadows to "seem brighter"?

-C:Is it possible, with or without rings, to have a section (namely the equator) to have extremely high speed winds, the kind that could almost suck a person up off their feet and carve rocks all spiky-like?

Sorry for the amount of stuff needed, but this is for my book I hope to write, so can I get the answers in good detail? (I just want to understand why/why not)

Thanks!
« Last Edit: 22/09/2015 07:36:55 by chris »


 

Offline Atomic-S

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 928
  • Thanked: 18 times
    • View Profile
Re: Okay Then, So, More Specific Now...
« Reply #1 on: 22/09/2015 06:41:57 »
A:  That would be hard to do with orbital mechanics as we generally encounter them; however is it possible at all?  Many things are possible if the conditions can be made sufficiently weird.  Maybe each ring could be composed of magnetic particles all spinning in the same direction, but the polarities of each ring would be the opposite of the adjacent rings, resulting in the rings being held apart. Or maybe the rings would be cut out of solid sheet iron, each magnitized in a similar manner. 

B: A binary star is completely compatible with this or any other kind of planet if the orbits and masses are correctly arranged. In general, a planet orbiting substantially further away than the distance between the stars would orbit in a largely normal manner, but would experiences perturbations in the orbit  due to the irregularity of the situation. Or, if the distance between stars was much larger than the distance of the planet to one of them, the planet's orbit would be controlled mainly by the star nearest to it.  If the distances between the stars and between each star to the planet were of about the same order of magnitude, the situation would be significantly more complex, but I believe we have that kind of a condition at Pluto, and Pluto and its moons do a fancy dance in which the orbital periods are locked into integer relationships. The relationships, however, have got to be right or, I understand, there is a good chance the system will disintegrate due to collisions. Figuring out what masses and trajectories will produce stable orbital configurations is, of course, a complex problem.

B1:  When the smaller star eclipses the larger, that is supposed to increase the light? That would require some really weird physics. Two possibilities: The smaller star is a neutron dwarf spinning at a high speed and having a highly directional radiation pattern, such that when it comes in front of the other star, the main beam just happens to be aimed at the planet. Of course, this would work only when everything was lined up just the right way, which, if it were to be recurring, would require some orbit synchronization.  Second possibility: The smaller star has a very clear atmosphere such that light from the larger star, passing through it, is focused by lens action on the planet.

C:  I believe such wind speeds are already available on Jupiter; however they are in the upper atmosphere and I don't know about ground level (if such a thing exists there).  In general, wind speeds would depend upon many factors, so superfast ground wind speeds are probably possible in principle.  Wind generally is an outgrowth of temperature, so if you get it hot enough, it may work.  That would, however, create other issues, depending on what is supposed to be going on on the planet, such as habitation. However, the bag of tricks is not yet exhausted.  A hot interior might serve, especially if combined with the right arrangement of underground passageways venting to the surface combined with an innovative system of geysers, based on a low-boiling-point substance, to create powerful jets. 
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4120
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
QA: Could an Earth-like planet possibly have a whole bunch of rings (starting around the equator, they stratify into distinct rings up and down the planet)?
AA: It is much easier to have a bunch of rings extending concentrically outwards from the planet.
      It is even easier if the rings extend outwards above the equator.
      At the right seasons, the rotation of the planet would take a point on the surface through the shadows of a series of rings, causing multiple cycles of brighter and dimmer light throughout the day.

-QB: How might a binary star system affect this planet if it was comprised of a small star orbiting a larger star?
 AB: Provided the gravitational attraction to one star is at least 100 times stronger than the attraction to the other star, it will have a fairly stable orbit. Because gravitational attraction is an inverse square law, this means that the planet must be at least 10 times closer to one star than to the other (assuming the stars have the same mass).

Because the star is much more massive than the planet, the rings must be very close to the planet, if their orbits are not to be disturbed by the star.

   -QB1:Could it be possible for these stars to have special light that, when the smaller one eclipses the larger one, the light would blind humans, causing shadows to "seem brighter"?
QB2: In a binary star system, when both stars are visible at the same time, there would be no deep shadows, as one star would illuminate the spaces hidden from the other star. However, during an eclipse, there would be no second source of light, so the shadows would be much more intense.
         This would not be a totally novel situation, as it would also occur when the two stars are in opposite directions, so only one star is visible at a time.

-QC:Is it possible, with or without rings, to have a section (namely the equator) to have extremely high speed winds, the kind that could almost suck a person up off their feet and carve rocks all spiky-like?
AC: Venus is Earth-sized, and has winds of over 300km/h. Of course, the planet as a whole is quite inhospitable to humans, so you wouldn't really call it "Earth-Like".
 

Offline xaphlactus

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Thanks guys! Appreciate the help, though anything else you could think of is always appreciated!
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums