View Full Version : Figure-8 orbits of binary stars

Tom Mazanec
2004-May-14, 02:58 AM
Is this old science fiction gimmick pure bunkum?

Brady Yoon
2004-May-14, 03:33 AM
Huh? I don't understand your post.

Celestial Mechanic
2004-May-14, 04:27 AM
Huh? I don't understand your post.
I think Mr. Mazanec is referring to a planet orbiting first one star and then the other alternately in a binary star system. I don't think such a thing is likely on the grounds of stability against perturbations by other planets in the system. The most likely scenarios for a planet in a binary system are 1: two stars close together, say less than 15 million kilometers apart, but not so close that their mutual tides disrupt one another, with the planet orbiting about their center of mass; or, 2: two distant stars, billions of kilometers apart with the planet orbiting one of the stars.

The topic of periodic orbits in the restricted three-body problem is a fascinating and complex one, and there are many surprising orbits with more being found all the time. I have looked at one of the standard texts in the field, Periodic Orbits by Victor Szebeheley, but I didn't really study it deeply enough.

While I cannot rule out a planet in a figure-eight orbit, I think it can safely be said that while it might be an interesting place to visit, I don't think I would want to live there! The planet would either freeze while going from one sun to the other, or it would scorch while rounding each sun. Not pleasant.

[Corrected spelling of name]