February 23, 2024

“Rare Fossil” – A research team discovers a special star

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

A research team has discovered that the star HD 110067 orbits six planets. They were able to discover planets only thanks to a special feature.

CHICAGO – A research team led by Raphael Locke (University of Chicago) has made a very remarkable discovery: the research group has discovered a planetary system consisting of six planets that resonate with each other. In orbital resonance, several planets move in a certain rhythm – for example, Neptune orbits the Sun three times, while Pluto orbits it twice at the same time (3:2 resonance).

Orbital resonance is important for research because it can provide information about the formation and subsequent evolution of a planetary system. What you need to know is that planetary systems tend to form in resonance. However, this original resonance can easily be disturbed – for example by a passing star, a massive planet, or a massive collision. For these reasons, there are only a few multi-planetary systems left that resonate.

Six-planet planetary system is a ‘rare fossil’

“We believe that only about one percent of all systems are still in resonance,” explains researcher Lucki in a statement issued by the European Space Agency (ESA). That’s why the newly discovered planetary system around the star HD 110067 is so exciting to research, says Luckey: “The system shows us the original formation of an untouched planetary system.” In the specialized magazine nature published The research team calls the planetary system a “rare fossil.”

The orbital resonance of the planets in the system around the star HD 110067 not only interests scientists 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 showed evidence of additional planets that were not perfectly compatible with each other.

The planets move in resonance around their star HD 110067

“That’s when we decided to use Cheops,” Loki recalls. “Cheops” is a European space probe searching for exoplanets. The study leader describes his plan as follows: “We looked for signals from all possible periods that these planets could go through.” Indeed, the research team was able to confirm the existence of a third planet orbiting the star HD 110067. By looking at the times it takes planets to orbit around their star, the research team found the key to uncovering 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 outer planet of the three known planets 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 find the other three planets.

“Without this discovery made by Khufu, it would have been impossible.”

“The film Khufu gave us this resonance configuration that allowed us to predict all other periods. Without this discovery by Khufu, it would have been impossible,” Loki emphasizes. The orbital period of the six known planets ranges from 9.11 days for the innermost planet to 54.74 days for the outermost planet. In general, the six planets form a resonant chain – while the inner planet orbits the star six times, the outer planet creates exactly one orbit.

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The planetary system orbiting the star HD 110067 is the brightest known system with more than four planets. All six celestial bodies are smaller than the planet Neptune and larger than Earth and are therefore considered “Neptunians.” It will be examined in the future, among other things, by the James Webb Space Telescope. By the way, the research team does not assume that the six planets in the system around the star HD 110067 will remain, so more planets could be discovered in the future. (unpaid bill)

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