A solar system of six planets has been found in perfect sync in the Milky Way Galaxy
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Astronomers have discovered a rare synchronous solar system featuring six planets moving like a great cosmic orchestra, untouched by outside forces since their birth billions of years ago.
The discovery, announced Wednesday, could help explain how solar systems originate across the Milky Way. This is located 100 light-years away in the Coma Berenice constellation. A light year equals 5.8 trillion miles.
A pair of planet-hunting satellites — NASA’s Tess and the European Space Agency’s Chiopes — collaborated on the observations.
None of the planets with perfect synchronization are within the star’s so-called habitable zone, meaning there is little possibility of life, if any, at least as we know it.
“Here we have a golden target” for comparison, said Adrian Lelio of the University of Geneva, who was part of an international team that published the results in the journal Nature.
This star, known as HD 110067, may have more planets. The six planets found so far are approximately two to three times the size of Earth, but their densities are closer to the gas giants in our solar system. Its orbits range from nine to 54 days, putting it closer to its star than Venus is to the sun and making it very hot.
As gaseous planets, they are thought to have solid cores made of rock, metal or ice, encased in thick layers of hydrogen, according to scientists. More observations are needed to determine what is in their atmospheres.
Scientists said that this solar system is unique because the six planets move in a completely synchronized symphony. Technically, the resonance is known to be “extremely precise and orderly,” said co-author Enrique Bali of the Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands.
The innermost planet completes three orbits for every two of its nearest neighbors. It’s the same for the second and third closest planets, and the third and fourth closest planets.
The two exoplanets complete their orbits in 41 and 54.7 days, resulting in four orbits for every three. Meanwhile, the innermost planet completes six orbits in the same time as the outer planet completes one.
All solar systems, including our own, are believed to have started this way, according to scientists. But it is estimated that only one in 100 systems has maintained this synchronization, and ours is not one of them. Giant planets can throw things out of place. The same applies to meteorite bombardments, close collisions with nearby stars, and other disturbances.
While astronomers know of 40 to 50 synchronous solar systems, none have as many planets in such a perfect move or as bright a star as this one, Paley said.
Hugh Osborne, of the University of Bern, who was part of the team, was “shocked and delighted” when the orbital periods of the planets in this star system came close to what scientists had expected.
“My jaw was on the floor,” he said. “That was a really beautiful moment.”