Washington, December 11
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency have helped astronomers identify a strange planet outside our solar system that behaves like the much sought after “Planet Nine.”
The exoplanet called “HD106906 b” occupies an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light years away, according to the study published in the Astronomical diary.
This is the first time that astronomers have been able to measure the motion of a massive Jupiter-like planet that is orbiting far away from its host stars and the visible debris disk.
The exoplanet HD106906 b was discovered in 2013 with the Magellan Telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in the Atacama desert in Chile.
However, astronomers did not know anything about the planet’s orbit.
This required the help of the Hubble Space Telescope to collect very precise measurements of the rover’s movement over 14 years with extraordinary precision.
The exoplanet resides extremely far from its pair of bright young stars, more than 730 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. This wide separation made it enormously difficult to determine the 15,000-year-long orbit in such a short time. of Hubble observations. The Hubble team behind this new result were surprised to find that the remote world has an extreme orbit that is highly inclined, elongated, and external to a dusty dust disk surrounding the exoplanet’s host twin stars.
The debris disk itself is very extraordinary, perhaps due to the gravitational pull of the rogue planet.
“To highlight why this is strange, we can just look at our own solar system and see that all the planets are roughly on the same plane,” said lead researcher Meiji Nguyen of the University of California at Berkeley.
“It would be strange if, say, Jupiter was tilted 30 degrees from the plane in which all the other planets orbit. This raises all kinds of questions as to how HD 106906 b ended up so far away in such a steep orbit. “The prevailing theory to explain how the exoplanet got into such a distant and strangely inclined orbit is that it formed much closer to its stars, about three times the distance that Earth is from the Sun.
However, the drag within the system’s gas disk caused the planet’s orbit to break down, forcing it to migrate inward toward its stellar hosts.
The gravitational forces of the spinning twin stars threw it into an eccentric orbit that nearly threw it out of the system and into the vacuum of interstellar space. Then a star passed very close to this system, stabilizing the exoplanet’s orbit and preventing it from leaving its home system.
This scenario to explain the strange orbit of HD106906 b is similar in some respects to what may have caused the hypothetical Planet Nine to end up in the confines of our own Solar System, beyond the Kuiper Belt.
To date, astronomers have only circumstantial evidence for the existence of Planet Nine.
They have found a group of small celestial bodies beyond Neptune that move in unusual orbits compared to the rest of the Solar System.
This configuration, some astronomers think, suggests that these objects were guided together by the gravitational pull of a huge invisible planet.
An alternative hypothesis is that there is no giant disturber, but rather that the imbalance is due to the combined gravitational influence of much smaller objects. IANS