(ORDO NEWS) — With the exception of orphan planets traveling “alone” in space, every known planet revolves around some star although this may not be a universal rule.
According to researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), planets could theoretically form around supermassive black holes creating large planetary systems that include thousands of worlds.
Planets usually form from protoplanetary disks, rings of dust and gas that orbit stars. As a result, a system of planets of various sizes with smaller moons is formed, and the remnants of these disks travel through the system in the form of asteroids and comets.
However, stars are not the only objects with dust disks. So, supermassive black holes – huge objects in the centers of galaxies – can have such disks, and much larger ones.
In some cases, the dust in the region of such a black hole can have a mass of 100,000 solar masses, which is about a billion times more than in the case of a conventional protoplanetary disk.
NAOJ experts decided to find out whether planets could form – according to existing models – in the disks of huge black holes.
The researchers studied black holes found at the centers of particularly active galaxies, in regions known as active galactic nuclei.
Since a dust disk can be very dense, it must have extremely cold spots, protected from strong radiation in the center.
In these regions, dust particles could have an icy shell and more easily combine with each other – starting the process of planet formation.
As the scientists point out, such a process would take several hundred million years – and as a result, planets could appear that revolve around supermassive black holes, and quite a large number, given how much dust there is in the area of objects.
According to the researchers’ calculations, tens of thousands of planets with masses 10 times the Earth’s could have formed about 10 light-years from the black hole.
At the moment, however, there is no direct evidence in favor of the existence of planetary systems around black holes, and scientists do not know how they could be detected.
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