Bad news for planet hunters: most of the "hot Jupiters" that astronomers have been searching for in star clusters were likely destroyed long ago by their stars.
In a paper accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal, John Debes and Brian Jackson of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., offer this new explanation for why no transiting planets (planets that pass in front of their stars and temporarily block some of the light) have been found yet in star clusters.
The researchers also predict that the planet hunting being done by the Kepler mission is more likely to succeed in younger star clusters than older ones.
"Planets are elusive creatures," says Jackson, a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow at Goddard, "and we found another reason that they're elusive."
Image Source: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/early-exit.html