Formalhaut

PBS Space Time Video

In this PBS Space Time video the forming solar system of Formalhaut is explored, with lots of Lord of the Rings puns to go around ever since the now infamous “Eye of Sauron” photo was released. Interestingly the star is a member of a tristellar system, it’s stellar siblings are a red dwarf and a flare star respectively.

Formalhaut’s solar system is also (probably) home to two planets, a hot Jupiter and a probably terrestrial planet called “Dagon,” how’s that for a cool name? Interestingly enough the orbit of Dagon indicates it was formed further in, closer to Formalhaut proper, but was thrown out into its current orbit by a close encounter with the aforementioned hot Jupiter. Something similar is posited to have happened in our solar system early on with the gas giants, as they all formed relatively close together but something threw them further apart.

Formalhaut may very well be a glimpse into what would have happened during the formation of our own solar system, as it is a solar system in formation right now as we speak.

Population III stars and solar systems

On Usenet recently someone brought up the possibility of solar systems forming around Pop III stars even though, being huge, they would’ve lived only a few million years. Giant stars have short lifespans of only a few million years, a few tens of millions of years at most, and I am incredulous that any substantial planetary system could develop around stars with such short lifespans.

Pop III stars were the first stars in the universe, none are around today, and thus they’ve never been directly observed because they are so old. (They’ve been indirectly observed tho, including by means such as detecting supermassive black holes.) One is better off looking for solar systems around main sequence and dwarf stars, especially if one is looking for ones with life in them.

Said poster also brought up that only gas giants could’ve presumably been found orbiting Pop III stars, but I would like to point out that the cores of gas giants are still metallic, and so would’ve required heavy elements for the gas to accrete to, which would’ve existed long after the Pop III stars went supernova, since they would’ve lacked the heavier elements in their makeup necessary for even gas giants to form.