In the battle between celestial masses, greater mass means a bigger pull, and usually survival of the more massive body
Space news (April 28, 2015)
– A cosmic mystery unfolds 43,000 light years away in globular cluster NGC 6388
NASA space scientists studying the source of x-rays emanating from a globular cluster on the edge of the Milky Way are on the trail of a cosmic mystery.
Evidence seems to indicate x-rays were created as hot gas was drawn into the intermediate-mass black hole space scientists believe resides at the center of globular cluster NGC 6388.
Taking a closer look at data obtained using the European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Laboratory (INTEGRAL), and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer revealed the x-rays emanated from a location slightly off to one side of the center of NGC 6388.
Where does this cosmic mystery lead?
Space scientists looking at theoretical simulations and the data obtained observing the x-ray source for 200 days now believe x-rays were created as a planet, one-third the mass of Earth, was ripped apart as it came to close to a white dwarf star roughly the size of our planet.
How could a body the size of Earth pull apart a planet estimated to be one-third the mass?
A white dwarf star is the remnant of a medium-mass star, similar to our own Sun. In this case, space scientists estimate the white dwarf star was about 1.4 times the mass of our Sun, which means its surface gravity would be over 10,000 times stronger.
As a body thirty-three percent of the mass of Earth travels near a white dwarf star with a surface gravity of this magnitude, space scientists simulations indicate the difference in gravitational forces between the far and near side of the body creates gravitational tides that are greatly enhanced due to the nearness and magnitude of gravitational forces involved.
Space scientists indicate computer simulations suggest a planet would be first pulled away from its parent star due to the gravitational force created by the dense concentration of stars near the center of globular cluster NGC 6388.
If this planet were to pass near a white dwarf star with a mass close to the one in this news story, computer simulations indicate it could be torn apart by extreme tidal forces created as it passes.
The planetary debris created is then heated and glows in x-rays as it falls into the gravitational field of the white dwarf.
In this case, the observed amount of x-rays is as computer simulations indicate should be detected, so space scientists think they’re at least on the right trail. They’re now going over the data obtained and conducting new experiments to eliminate other possible x-ray sources.
For more information on NASA’s space mission visit here.
Learn more about the Chandra X-ray Observatory here.
Discover more about the mission of the European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Laboratory (INTEGRAL) here.
For more information concerning the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer visit here.
Learn more about stars similar to our Sun.
Learn more about the possible evolution of life during the early universe.
Learn more about the human desire to travel to Mars.