A team of astronomers has made a remarkable discovery: a solar system with six planets that are perfectly synchronized, resembling a vast cosmic symphony. These planets have remained undisturbed since their formation billions of years ago.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the discovery can provide insight into the formation of solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy. This particular one is located 100 light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices. A light-year is equivalent to 5.8 trillion miles.
Two satellites, Tess from NASA and Cheops from the European Space Agency, collaborated to conduct the observations for planet detection.
No planets are in perfect alignment within the star’s habitable zone, indicating a low probability of life as we know it.
Adrien Leleu from the University of Geneva, who was a member of an international team that published the findings in the journal Nature, described the target as “golden” for comparison purposes.
This star, known as HD 110067, may have even more planets. The six found so far are roughly two to three times the size of Earth, but with densities closer to the gas giants in our own solar system. Their orbits range from nine to 54 days, putting them closer to their star than Venus is to the sun and making them exceedingly hot.
Scientists believe that gas planets have solid cores consisting of either rock, metal, or ice, surrounded by thick layers of hydrogen. Further research is necessary to determine the composition of their atmospheres.
According to scientists, this solar system stands out because its six planets move in a synchronized manner reminiscent of a symphony. This phenomenon, known as resonance, is incredibly precise and orderly, as described by co-author Enric Palle from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands.
The planet closest to the center completes three orbits for every two completed by its nearest neighbor. This pattern holds true for the second- and third-closest planets, as well as the third- and fourth-closest planets.
The two farthest planets take 41 and 54.7 days to complete one orbit, resulting in a ratio of four orbits to every three. On the other hand, the closest planet completes six orbits in the same time it takes the farthest planet to complete one.
Scientists believe that all solar systems, including ours, began in a similar way. However, it is estimated that only 1 out of 100 systems have maintained this synchronicity, and our system is not one of them. The presence of giant planets and events like meteor bombardments, interactions with nearby stars, and other disruptions can cause systems to become unbalanced.
Astronomers have identified 40 to 50 synchronized solar systems, but none of them possess a star as bright and planets in such flawless alignment as this particular one, according to Palle.
Hugh Osborn, a member of the team from the University of Bern, was pleasantly surprised by the orbital periods of the planets in this star system, which closely matched the predictions made by scientists.
“I was stunned,” he remarked. “It was a truly pleasant moment.”
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