Photo credit: Bill Lowenburg — From the Crash Burn Love Project
I sure enjoyed that article on Figure-Eight racing in last Sunday’s New York Times. The piece is a shameless sop, of course, to the smug ironic-hipster segment of the NYT readership — not unlike twelve-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon stacked up in front of the checkout counter at Whole Foods — but it’s also a great story. The racers adhere to a pure recession-era hellenic ideal, risking life and limb for glory, complete with six-time world champion Bob Dossey channeling a latter-day wrath of Achilles.
And the exoplanet connection? Orbital mean-motion resonances with large libration widths bring to mind a smoothly-running Figure-Eight race. The planets roar around the parent star, continually missing each other at the intersections of their crossing orbits. Here’s an animation of the HD 128311 2:1 resonant pair, strobed over several hundred orbits.
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]
To date, several such systems are known. In addition to HD 128311 b and c, a similar state of affairs also seems to hold in the HD 82943 and HD 73526 systems, both of ...