Now, that is something
"planet, about the size of Ceres and circling a star shrunk down to roughly Earth-size"
Quite impressive that we can observe such small planets in bloody remote solar systems!
Pity the latest planet spotted by NASA's K2 (the re-birthed Kepler) mission: boiled by starlight from its host, WD 1145+017, and racked by gravity, it's only got a million years left. The planet, about the size of Ceres and circling a star shrunk down to roughly Earth-size, is already followed by so much debris that Harvard- …
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So the star is a white dwarf and the object circling it is a dwarf (Ceres sized) planet.
There must be a joke about this - maybe the star should be renamed 'Snow' and a hunt undertaken for the 6 missing companions :-)
Not if there isn't any process happening adding energy to the debris in some way. The breaking up process takes energy, so any piece of debris will at best have the same velocity as the orginal planet. There'll be some pieces that will get accelerated by all the interactions going on there, but by and large the bits will be far more likely to end up slightly slower than the original planet, thus forming a tail.
end up slightly slower than the original planet, thus forming a tail
I am not convinced. The statistical process should make the debris faster and slower relative to the central mass with equal probability.
Also, remember the Gas Torus Mnemonic: "East takes you out, out takes you west, west takes you in, in takes you east, port and starboard bring you back"
If the debris slow down relative to the central mass, they will fall in and will overtake the planet.
Upvote for the fact that you've clearly read Integral Trees.
I'm not certain the same mechanic would apply in this case -- it sounds rather like the orbit here is likely one that has a very narrow stable speed, such that much drop in velocity and the matter falls into the stars gravity well, and any acceleration results in leaving the orbit. Its a rational hypothesis at least.
Seems like that would depend on the rotational speed of the "dwarf" planet. If it in fact is rotating at all. The bugger may not even be on a regular axis in relation to the dwarf star. Perhaps it rotates the opposite direction of a "normal" planet, like Venus's retrograde spin?
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