Researchers Think Planets Can Form Around Supermassive Black Holes

Pablo Tucker
November 29, 2019

Some supermassive black holes hold enormous amounts of matter around them in the form of a large, thick disk.

Such disks can contain over a billion masses of an ordinary protoplanetary disk, or 100,000 times our Sun's mass. There are now no known methods of observing a black hole's accretion disk at a high enough resolution to even spot something baby planets forming so the research remains as more of a curiosity than anything else.

While the researchers' finding is tantalising, sadly we can't now detect such black-hole-hosted planets.

According to the universally accepted theory of science, it is accepted that planets only revolve around stars like the Sun. According to these theories, as the clouds of dust spin around the star, they would eventually clump together to form massive cosmic bodies such as planets.

For the study's co-author Keiichi Wada of the Kagoshima University, it is possible for large objects to form from the dust surrounding massive black holes.


Unfortunately, we don't have the necessary techniques to identify these planets around supermassive black holes, but we could hope for future change.

Researchers in the study, 'Planet Formation around Super Massive Black Holes in the Active Galactic Nuclei' focused on the disks around supermassive black holes at the center of the galaxies.

For Wada and his colleague, the right conditions refer to the cool temperature within the protoplanetary disk. Since's there's so much more dust there, these planetary systems could far outnumber our solar system's paltry eight planets.

However, young stars are not the only objects in our Universe that have disks of material surrounding them.

In a disc around a black hole, the radial drift velocity would be negligible compared to the orbital velocity of the rotating disc.


Artist's impression of a baby star still surrounded by a protoplanetary disc in which planets are forming.

"Our calculations show that tens of thousands of planets with 10 times the mass of the Earth could be formed around 10 light-years from a black hole". A dust disk nearby a black hole is so thick that the excessive radiation from the core is stopped, and low-temperature areas are created.

The website mentions that even though this seems like a scenery from a sci-fi movie, there's brand new research that found out that such a black-hole world could actually exist.

This illustration shows the seething hot planet Kepler-13Ab that circles very close to its host star, Kepler-13A.


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