Is It Possible for a Star to Orbit a Planet?

Is it possible for a star to orbit a planet?

Is it possible for a star to orbit a planet?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

While the universe is full of surprises and the boundaries of possibility are constantly being pushed by new discoveries, the current understanding of astrophysics suggests that a star orbiting a planet is not feasible. The mass and gravitational forces of stars are the defining factors that lead to planets orbiting stars, not the other way around. Therefore, within the context of our current knowledge, a star cannot orbit a planet.

 

The celestial dance between stars and planets has fascinated astronomers for centuries. Traditionally, it is understood that planets orbit stars, but the question arises: can a star orbit a planet? This article explores the dynamics of star-planet systems and whether such a reversal of roles is possible within the known laws of physics and celestial mechanics.

Understanding Star-Planet Systems

In the conventional sense, a star is a massive celestial body composed of hydrogen and helium undergoing nuclear fusion, while a planet is a smaller body that orbits a star. The gravitational force of a star typically dominates the system, leading to planets orbiting the star. However, the discovery of various exoplanetary systems has revealed a plethora of arrangements and masses, challenging our understanding of these systems.

Observations from Exoplanetary Research

Research has shown that planets can vary widely in mass. For instance, a super-Earth with a mass of 8.8 Earth masses and two sub-Neptunes with masses of 14.7 and 10.2 Earth masses have been found orbiting an evolved star, EPIC 2498930121. Similarly, a giant planet with a mass of 3.2 Jupiter masses was discovered orbiting the ‘extreme horizontal branch’ star V391 Pegasi3. These findings indicate that planets can indeed be massive, but they are still significantly less massive than the stars they orbit.

Theoretical Possibilities

Theoretically, if a planet were to have a mass greater than that of a star, it could be possible for the star to orbit the planet. However, such a scenario is highly unlikely given the definitions and formation processes of stars and planets. Stars, by definition, are much more massive than planets, and their formation process involves accumulating vast amounts of material, which naturally leads to them having a stronger gravitational pull than their planetary companions.

Future Prospects

Continued observations and research into exoplanetary systems may further our understanding of the complex interactions between stars and planets. As we discover more about the universe, we may find even more unusual and unexpected systems that challenge our current models and theories.

 

Is it possible for a star to orbit a planet?

Natasha Hurley-Walker has answered Near Certain

An expert from Curtin University in Astronomy

Actually, planets don’t orbit stars. All objects in a solar system revolve around their common centre of mass. For a single-star system like our own, that centre of mass is deep inside the Sun, but slightly offset from its centre, mostly in the direction of Jupiter, the second-most massive object in our solar system. In a binary star system consisting of two equal-mass stars, they will both revolve around an empty point in space halfway between the stars. This would be a Lagrange point, and it is technically possible (although incredibly unlikely) for a planet to be at that location. In this example, it would look as if the two stars were orbiting around a single planet. But just as in our own solar system, they would really all be revolving around a common centre of mass.

 

Is it possible for a star to orbit a planet?

Chris Woodruff has answered Near Certain

An expert from Walter+Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Bioinformatics, Optics

Absolutely agree with Natasha below. If you believe that a planet can orbit a star (I think most of us do believe this!), then you would logically believe that a star can orbit a planet (the star needs to have an associated planet).

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