May 12, 2017 - Science

How a musical rhythm keeps 7 planets in orbit

L. Calçada/ESO /AP

To understand how seven tightly-packed Earth-sized planets orbit around their star (Trappist-1) without colliding or falling into space, scientists turned their orbits into musical notes.

How: Astronomers found that the planets are in a resonant orbit and can continue as such for billions of years. The rhythmic pattern inspired astrophysicist and musician Matt Russo to assign each of them a musical note based on their orbital period, and the result was something similar to a drum progression.

What's next? Though Trappist-1 is the only known planetary system whose planets orbit in resonance, this research could lead to a better understanding of how planets form and exist around other dwarf stars.

Go deeper