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Binary stars may explain the misalignment of planetary orbits

from Ars Technica

The most widely accepted theories of planet formation, i.e., that they form from a flat protoplanetary disk that was once contiguous with the material that formed the rapidly spinning new star, have trouble explaining systems where the planets have orbits that are in the opposite direction of their star's rotation. A new model reported in Nature suggests that these misaligned systems are form in two-star systems. Gravity from the companion star, especially when the two are not aligned, would force planets closer to one of the stars, and protoplanetary disk itself would tilt drastically in accordance with the total gravitation and spin of the two stars. In some cases, the disk could have flipped entirely over. Binary star systems normally do not persist as one star leaves the system. The only indication of its former presence is a so-called hot Jupiter orbiting in the opposite direction to the remaining star's rotation. more

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