Planetary Demolition Derby

Ever since taking part in this thread, I’ve been concerned about the influence of the Kozai Mechanism on the formation and retention of habitable planets in multiple star systems. All of that variation in eccentricity(0.9!!!) can’t be conducive to life. In fact, it would often throw planets right out of stable orbits.

I’m still not sure how his will work out, but some recent observations by the Spitzer Space telescope are making me hopeful. I’m thinking that all of this ferment and turbulence and collisions would tend to average out all of that eccentricity. Or some of it, anyway. By the time large bodies have accreted from all of these mountain-sized chunks, the plane of the planetary systems will be the same as the plane occupied by the two stars.

Like as not I suspect, at least for binary stars, the companion star will be in the same rotational plane as the primary star. This is because they likely condensed out of the same cloud of dust and gas, and would share similar angular momentum.

For trinary stars and beyond, I think, it gets more and more likely that the stars may have condensed from different clouds and may have, by sheer chance and close distribution in the larger cloud from which they were born, simply came close enough to capture each other. This seems to have the greatest likelihood for major disruption of the effected systems. Thus, your five star system (ala Serenity or Nightfall) still seems an unlikely abode even of terraformable planets.

Planetary Demolition Derby – NASA Spitzer Space Telescope.

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