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Tidal forces near a binary star system, illustration

Tidal forces near a binary star system, illustration

C034/4901

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Credit

GARY TONGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY TONGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Tidal forces near a binary star system. Illustration of rocky planets starting to break apart under the tidal forces present in a binary star system. The binary star system consists of a small and dense star (lower left) and a larger star. The gravitational force acting on the rocky planets is stronger on the sides facing to the stars compared to the sides facing away. When the planets are close enough to the stars this difference in force (the tidal force) will be strong enough to break them apart.

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