As per new simulations carried out by a team of Japanese scientists, thousands of blanets could be hosted in the ‘safe zone’ that surrounds a black hole. Researchers already know that there are stars that rotate around black holes, and even exoplanets, which have been evicted from their solar systems and ended up orbiting a black hole.
However, now, the new study, led by Keiichi Wada of Kagoshima University, brings forth the possibility of planets forming around a black hole.
Black Holes Could Harbor So-Called ‘Blanets’
Blanets could take form in the same manner regular planets which rotate around stars do when a gigantic amount of gas and dust starts to accumulate together and form in a circular shape under its own gravitational pull.
While planets form in the dust it gathers around stars, blanets would take form in the accretion disk, which is the region around a black hole where gas and dust assemble.
Still, the research published in the online journal arXiv, suggested that an Earth-like blanet could boast a mass of up to 3,000 times that of our planet. This is because there is a lot more material to work within the areas surrounding a black hole, which has pulled in dust and gas from faraway places.
“With the right conditions, planets could be formed even in harsh environments, such as around a black hole,” Professor Wada said in a statement.
The study unveiled the fact that a black hole with one million solar masses, which is a mass of a million times the Sun, could make it possible for a planet to rotate 13 light-years from the enigmatic object.
As a point of reference, Earth rotates around the Sun at a distance of about eight light-minutes, the time it takes for light to get to our planet from the natural satellite.
Planets vs. Blanets
However, the conditions surrounding a black hole would require to be almost perfect if a blanet was to take shape.
For instance, the velocity of the accretion disk must not be moving at such speed that any celestial bodies would wipe put each other if they were to crash. Another potential impediment is that the initial clusters of blanets could expand incredibly fast, whereas planets orbiting stars merge extremely slowly.
Nonetheless, the new study puts forward new avenues in regards to where to look for planets.
The study authors said in the published paper: “Our results suggest that blanets could be formed around relatively low-luminosity active galactic nuclei during their lifetime (100 million years). The gaseous envelope of a blanet should be negligibly small compared with the blanet mass.”
Therefore, according to the authors, the system of blanets is significantly different from the regular Earth-like type of planets that can be found in the exoplanet systems. The dynamical stability of such a system surrounding a supermassive black hole may be an interesting and subject for future studies, the paper concludes, as it will open up even more possibilities the field hasn’t considered so far.