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    Astronomers Discover Missing Link in Planetary Formation Process

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    A team of French, UK, and Australian astronomers with London’s Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) have discovered a missing link in the formation of planets, through the use of computer simulation.

    Like stars, planets form from massive clouds of dust and gas. But why these dust clouds tend to converge into one body is a question that the astronomical community has struggled to answer. The process of tiny grains of dust aggregating into pebble-sized pieces is well-understood, as is the process of asteroid-sized "planetesimals" becoming planetary cores.

    It is the intermediate step, in which pebbles become kilometer-sized chunks, that science is shaky on. Scientists have not been able to satisfactorily explain how pieces of that size could aggregate, as they faced two major obstacles: pebbles being pulled into the young star's gravity and being consumed, or pebbles striking one another at high speeds and shattering, rather than combining.

    But an RAS simulation of a young solar system showed that the pebble-sized fragments come together to form "dust-traps." Forming in high-pressure regions, dust-traps are said to occur where movement is slowed. Dust-traps form much more commonly than previously believed, according to the simulation.

    The effect relies on a known phenomenon called "aerodynamic drag back-reaction," which, in layman's terms, is when the congregating dust forces the gas lying between particles out from the clump of solid matter. The gas then forms a high-pressure region where these dust-trap clumps form into larger, and larger, planetesimals.

    The simulation showed that aerodynamic drag back-reaction, previously thought to be a negligible phenomenon, is far more prevalent than previously believed.

    For most of the history of modern human astronomy, it was believed that a majority of stars have few, if any, planets, and that our Sun is an exception. However, recent improvements in telescopes have proven our galaxy to be far more planet-rich than previously believed.

    "Until now we have struggled to explain how pebbles can come together to form planets, and yet we've now discovered huge numbers of planets in orbit around other stars," said study lead Dr Jean-Francois Gonzalez, of the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, in France. "That set us thinking about how to solve this mystery."

    "We were thrilled to discover that, with the right ingredients in place, dust traps can form spontaneously, in a wide range of environments. This is a simple and robust solution to a long standing problem in planet formation," added Gonzalez.

    Telescopes, like the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, have identified dust-traps around young stars, giving credence to the findings of Gonzalez's team.

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    Tags:
    space, astronomy, star formation, planet, Royal Astronomical Society, London
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      барба
      Aerodynamics in space? really?
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      I would have used the term "fluid dynamics" rather than "aerodynamics" but in terms of the math, aerodynamics is the correct term. The same reverse fractal which induces drag on the trailing edges of wings is also the same one which induces not only the article's effect but also something called the Bouduard effect, which is clumping of free carbon molecules in high-pressure/high velocity natural gas pipelines and refinery gasification pipelines & cracking towers to the extent that a separate discipline for pipe cleaning called "pigging" is a part of everyday life for refinery and pipeline technicians.

      Here is the Website for the pipeline pigging trade association. This cleaning process is big business. www.ppsa-online.com

      Here is a technical explanation of the Bouduard effect as it relates to another gazillion-ruble industry-the creation of metallurgical cokes from coal:
      www.pyrometallurgy.co.za/InfaconXI/583-Kaczorowski.pdf

      Here is a brilliant and stylistically charming article on a new pigging technology which explains how to counteract particle clumping and deposition in natural gas pipelines:

      www.circorenergy.com/_assets/pdf/literature/pipeline-engineering/PE-PandGJ-AMPL.pdf

      I would have thought also that, given the conditions of near-perfect vacuum and Volovik-type vacuum pressures of field-effect electromagnetic magnetic potentia in space, planetary formation would resemble a manufacturing process known as "electrostatic vacuum deposition" which is how the very best gas turbine and steam turbine blades are made for such applications as the Ivchenko, Masproekt and Rolls Royce gas turbines. Here is an excellent handbook on gas turbine blade manufacture by a Vietnamese scholar which handbook also includes a full description of the vacuum electrostatic deposition manufacturing process:

      www.academia.edu/8858634/Turbine_blade_manufacturing_overview

      There is no way to prevent this type of clumping. This type clumping IMO is what killed the Air Products/Westinghouse Plasma project in the Tees Valley UK, which was a massive project for municipal waste incineration for syngas manufacture which in turn would fuel combustion turbines. This type clumping is what causes the majority of refinery explosions too.

      Whoever develops an electromagnetic/acoustic vibratory resonance-based process to prevent in-pipeline clumping of microparticles into big pipeline-exploding rocks will die a wealthy person.

      IMO technological innovation has been slowing down for the past 50 years owing to the absence of a discipline which should be called syncretic engineering holistics which professionals would do nothing but cross-reference related achievements across various technical disciplines. The job title for this function used to be called "technical librarian" but the culture of science has relegated the librarian to the status of an administrative clerk rather than as a living repository of knowledge who exists to promote engineering and scientific achievement.

      Class warfare kills off everything worth preserving in its path. My apologies for preaching to the choir but it needs to be said. All our current problems relate to this loss of forward inertia due to too many class-centric money lenders in the temple of science and engineering. They need to be driven out.
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