General, Research, Technology

The most harmonious planetary system has been discovered. But what does this mean?

For seven years, astronomers from the ObservatoryUsing the SOFIA spectrograph, Upper Provence, we observed the star HD 158259, which is 88 light-years from our planet. Over the years of observations, scientists managed to get more than 300 images of the star's spectrum, from which you can find out the distance to the star, its luminosity, size, temperature, chemical composition of the atmosphere, etc. It turned out that six planets rotate around HD 158259 in an amazing order. The world closest to the star is super-earth, with a mass of about two times that of the earth, but the other five planets belong to the class of mini-neptunes, which are about six times heavier than the Earth. At the same time, one earth-like planet and five mini-neptunes are connected with each other by their orbital periods. This means that, like a music orchestra, all the planets at a certain moment synchronized with each other to play a melody. In general, researchers agree that this is the first system in which all six planets are in complete harmony with each other.

The movement of the planets of the recently opened system is similar to the synchronous play of a music

Minneptune - a class of planets intermediate between planets like Neptune and Uranus and “earth-like” exoplanets.

Unusual planets

The new planetary system, like the star in itcenter, for a long time interested scientists. As it turned out, all six worlds are incredibly close to each other and to their native star. So, the closest of the six exoplanets is almost two and a half times closer to its Sun than Mercury is to ours. In this case, all six exoplanets complete a revolution around the star for 2.7; 3.4; 5.2; 7.9; 12 and 17.4 earth days. Never before no one has seen anything like it.

Another feature of the most harmoniousof the planetary system is the very fact that in the observable Universe there are not so many multi-planetary systems - that is, stellar systems in which six or more worlds revolve around a star. In total, the catalog of exoplanets of stellar systems like ours is not more than 10. However, all six planets that revolve around HD 158259 cannot be seen with the naked eye - remember that even with special instruments, astronomers took seven whole years to prove the presence of all six worlds located so close to each other. The study is published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Of all the planets that revolve around the star HD 158259, only one rock-like earth-like planet

You will be interested in: What can look like exoplanets orbiting cold stars?

Moreover, each next planet makes twoturnover for the time while the previous one does three. Moreover, all six planets are located in an unbreakable order of removal from their native star. In fact, this is a widespread phenomenon in the open spaces of the cosmic ocean, which is called the 3: 2 orbital resonance. For comparison: in our solar system, such harmony is rare, and Pluto and Neptune can serve as the best examples. The orbital resonance of these two bodies is 2: 3. This means that for every two turns of Pluto around the Sun, Neptune makes three. However, the authors of the study believe that all six worlds fell into the so-called resonance trap - they got into it at the time of their formation, but then left, not completely losing their orbital connection with each other. But what other similar worlds are found in outer space?

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Fancy star systems

This is what the planets of the Trappist-1 system look like

A few years ago, NASA issued a statementabout the discovery of a new multi-planet system called Trappist-1. Read more in the article by my colleague Ilya Hel. Although the expectations regarding the possible habitability of several Trappist-1 planets did not materialize, their location in their system may be the key to unraveling the stability of systems in which planets form away from the star and then move closer and closer to it. The orbital resonance we observed in other multi-planet systems, such as Trappist-1, may be the key to maintaining stability in some planetary systems in which planets form away from the star and then move closer and closer. This is due to their interaction with the disk of the material from which they were formed.

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One way or another, the authors of the study believe thatsuch a harmonious 3: 2 ratio in the planetary system is not ideal. This means that the deviation of the ratio of the periods from 3: 2 contains a huge amount of information, including important information for astronomers, namely information about how this unusual planetary system was formed. Let me remind you that the more researchers learn about how other planetary systems are formed, the more they learn about how our solar system works.