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Amazing discovery: Rare planetary system with six worlds revealed

The exoplanets, all of which are larger than Earth but smaller than the ice giant Neptune, dance around the bright star in a perfectly synchronized cosmic waltz of closely connected orbits.

In this case, that means the planet closest to the star, called b, orbits the star three times in the same time as it takes the next planet, c, twice.

For every time c takes three rounds, the next planet, d, takes two rounds. The pattern continues to the two outermost planets in the system, f and g, where the ratio is instead 4:3.

The innermost therefore takes four rounds every time the outermost takes three.

The tightly coupled cosmic dance is known as orbital resonance, and the phenomenon is believed to play out at the beginning of most planetary systems.

However, the perfect path can easily be disturbed by chaos from, for example, passing stars or colliding planets that disturb the harmony.

The system is “frozen in time”

In the newly discovered planetary system, however, the resonance appears to still hold more than a billion years after the system itself was formed. Like frozen in time.

And it’s a rare sight, as only one percent of all planetary systems are thought to move in resonance, prompting scientists to call it a “perfect solar system.”

What’s even more rare is that astronomers have found five pairs of exoplanets with synchronous orbits, just like when the system formed billions of years ago.

According to the researchers behind the discovery, it shows that “the system’s development has been very careful and calm”, as lead author Rafael Luque explains to Astronomy.

Watch video: This is how the planets move

Astronomers therefore believe that the pristine planetary family is ideal for studying how planetary systems like our own are formed.

Monitored from Earth

The team behind the study used data from 12 different telescopes to identify the six planets in our cosmic neighborhood.

One of them was the American space telescope TESS, which was sent into space in 2018 and already in 2020 observed how two of the planets went into orbit in front of the host star HD110067.

Later, the astronomers were helped by the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS space telescope.

The host star itself is the most luminous one found with more than four planets around it, making it bright enough to be observed by telescopes on Earth.

The researchers hope that in the future they will be able to obtain even more data that can reveal more about the planets’ size, atmosphere and perhaps even inner layers.

The study has been published in the scientific journal the journal Nature.

2023-12-03 07:12:40
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