February 29, 2024

A “rare fossil” in space: Researchers discover a special planetary system

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Exoplanets deep in the universe. (Avatar) © IMAGO/Panthermedia

Six planets orbit the star HD 110067 in a unique way. This discovery may be the key to the secrets of planetary evolution.

CHICAGO – When planets form around a star, they often move in sync in their orbits. But this so-called resonance can be easily disrupted – for example by a passing star, a massive planet, or a large collision. That’s why there are hardly any of them today Multi-planetary systemsThis is an echo. That’s why the discovery made by Raphael Locke and his research team from the University of Chicago is so important: the team has identified a system containing six planets that have orbital resonance with each other.

This resonance is of great interest to science because it can provide insight into the formation and evolution of planetary systems. The newly discovered planetary system around the star HD 110067 is therefore particularly fascinating, Loki emphasizes: “The system shows us the original formation of an untouched planetary system.” In the study, In the specialized magazine nature published The research team describes the planetary system as a “rare fossil.”

Six planets orbit simultaneously around their star HD 110067

The orbital resonance of the planets in the system around HD 110067 is not only of interest for further research, but also helped discover half of the six planets in the first place. In 2020, NASA’s TESS space telescope discovered the first two planet candidates around the star. Two years later, new TESS data indicated the existence of additional planets, but the data had not been properly collected.

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“That’s when we decided to use Khufu’s song,” Loki recalls. “Khufu” is a European space probe searching for exoplanets. “We looked for signals from all possible periods that these planets could go through,” Locke describes his approach. Indeed, the research team was able to confirm the existence of a third planet orbiting HD 110067. By analyzing the orbital periods of the planets around their star, the research team was able to decipher the codes of the entire planetary system.

HD 110067 b 9.11 days
HD 110067 c 13.67 days
HD 110067 D 20.52 days
HD 110067 AH 30.79 days
HD 110067 F 41,058 days
HD 110067 grams 54.74 days
Source: Study in Nature

The orbits of the planets are synchronized, their resonance reveals them

Of the three known planets, the outer planet takes exactly 1.5 times as long as its inner neighbor to orbit the star. The middle of the three planets takes 1.5 times longer than the innermost planet to orbit HD 110067. Thanks to this orbital resonance, the research team was able to discover the other three planets.

Loki points out that Khufu gave us this resonance configuration that allowed us to predict all other periods. Had it not been for this discovery by Khufu, it would have been impossible.” The orbital period of the six known planets ranges from 9.11 days for the innermost planet to 54.74 days for the outer planet. In general, the six planets form a resonant chain – while the inner planet orbits the star six times, The exoplanet creates exactly one orbit.

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Planetary system HD 110067 will be examined by the James Webb Space Telescope

The planetary system around HD 110067 is the brightest known system with more than four planets. All six celestial bodies are smaller than Neptune and larger than Earth, making them called “Neptunians.” It will be examined in the future, among other things, by the James Webb Space Telescope. The research team assumes that the six planets in the system around HD 110067 will not necessarily remain the same, so more planets could be discovered. (unpaid bill)

Automated assistance was used in writing this article by the editorial team. The article was carefully examined by editor Tanya Banner before publication.