You’ve Heard of Planets, get Ready for Blanets!

It’s not just any exoplanet, it’s a 🅱️lanet! Blanets live in hypothetical science territory, so head on with caution!

Blanets are very similar to any other exoplanet, but their host is a supermassive black hole. The leading research behind them is being conducted at Kagoshima University by Keichi Wada.

How would they form?

AB Aurigae’s protoplanetary dust and gas disk. The bright blob near the centre is a planet forming! Credit: ESO/VLT

We suspect they’re formed around the black hole’s accretion disk. Research shows there’s a “Goldilocks” zone for the formation of planets around a black hole, where planets can form safely in a similar manner to Earth. The accretion disk is home to a lot of dust and gas, so there’s plenty of material to make planets!

These planets would orbit at an extreme distance compared to our Solar System. The planet formation zone would be 10.6 light years or about 3 parsecs away from the centre of the black hole. Our solar system ends at around a tenth of that distance, for comparison.

The accretion disk of M87 is full of dust and gas, great for planets! Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

What we’ve got to remember is that blanets are hypothetical. Wada’s research gives convincing evidence for the possibility of blanets, but until we detect them we can’t say for sure if they exist.

A question I have regards life on these blanets. If these planets were to exist, could they be habitable? So far, we’ve only considered conditions where a planet could form, but that’s a long step away from biological life!

All I know for sure is that even if blanets existed, Interstellar would still be as scientifically horrendous as it gets!

Psst! Take a look at 2 of Wada’s paper’s here and here!

2 comments

  1. I feel like they could be habitable in the same way that Europa and Enceladus are habitable. If a blanet has enough geothermal energy inside it, and a layer of liquid water, or a liquid similar to water, then life could develop there. No guarantee that it would, of course. But it seems plausible enough to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would agree that life could be cultivated on a blanet, and there’d probably be a LOT of thermal energy thanks to the black hole and accretion disk. We’d need a balance between thermal energy and water sustainability, but would that ideal zone match with the planet-formation zone? I have no clue, all I know is if life could form, then it would probably be not as we know it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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