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May 10

Astronomers Find Nine New Planets and Upset the Theory of Planetary Formation

Source: Universtity of California, Santa Barbara


Gallery of exoplanets with retrograde orbits. Exoplanets, discovered by WASP together with ESO telescopes, that unexpectedly have been found to have retrograde orbits, are shown in this artist's conception. In all cases the star is shown to scale, with its rotation axis pointing up and with realistic colors. Credit: ESO/L. Cal├žada

The discovery of nine new planets challenges the reigning theory of the formation of planets, according to new observations by astronomers. Two of the astronomers involved in the discoveries are based at the UC Santa Barbara-affiliated Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT), based in Goleta, Calif., near UCSB.

Unlike the planets in our solar system, two of the newly discovered planets are orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star. This, along with a recent study of other exoplanets, upsets the primary theory of how planets are formed. There is a preponderance of these planets with their orbital spin going opposite to that of their parent star. They are called exoplanets because they are located outside of our solar system. (read more)

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