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Scientists find planets in nearby solar system have unusual orbit

Scientists wanted to study star HD110067 after noticing dips in the star's brightness. They were not disappointed.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite over Earth.
Posted at 9:23 AM, Nov 30, 2023

A study led by researchers from the European Space Agency has discovered a six-planet solar system about 100 light-years away from Earth.

These planets, they say, have a "rhythmic beat" as the planets orbit around their parent star HD110067. What they found was the planet closest to the star makes three orbits for every two of the next planet out. This pattern is repeated among the four closest planets. 

They also found that the outermost planets have a pattern of four orbits for every three orbits of the next planet out. 

“We think only about 1% of all systems stay in resonance, and even fewer show a chain of planets in such configuration,” said University of Chicago scientist Rafael Luque, whose study was published Wednesday in Nature. "That is why HD110067 is special and invites further study: It shows us the pristine configuration of a planetary system that has survived untouched.”

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The solar system was found after NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite detected dips in HD110067's brightness. The dips, scientists say, are a sign of planets passing through the light from the star.

Finding such a nearby solar system could help scientists learn more about planet formation and evolution, Luque said. 

“This discovery is going to become a benchmark system to study how sub-Neptunes, the most common type of planets outside of the solar system, form, evolve, what are they made of, and if they possess the right conditions to support the existence of liquid water in their surfaces,” said Luque.

The European Space Agency said HD110067 is the brightest known system with four or more planets.