Last year, astronomers have discovered a planet that was weirdly far away from its star. Being more than 16 times farther away than Pluto is from the Sun, the planet was the object of some pretty intense debates. After almost two years of investigating, scientists have published a research paper about HD 106906 b, the exiled exoplanet.
- The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is located in the Chilean Andes
- The planet’s orbit is tilted 21 degrees away from the plane of the planetary system
- HD 106906 b has its own dusty ring system, similar to Saturn’s
- The planet can be found as far away from its star as 650 times the distance between Earth and the Sun
- The star, HD 106906, is located 300 light years away from Earth, and is only 13 million years old
Being very large, about 11 times the size of Jupiter, scientists have been wondering how HD 106906 b was able to form so far away from its star. However, after extensive research via the Gemini Planet Imager and the Hubble telescope, astronomers managed to figure out that the planet was thrown away from its star following a chaotic event, as of yet still of unknown origins.
The best explanations scientists were able to come up with regarding the exiled planet revolve (more like orbit, right?) around major shifts in gravitation in the solar system, possibly caused by it colliding with a different system, or a star or a similarly massive object passing through.
Regardless of reason, the exoplanet was hurled away from its star, leaving it near the edges of its solar system. Not only that. But as it was being banished to the outer reaches, HD 106906 b managed to collect enough dust and space debris to possibly get a ring similar to Saturn’s.
The exile also left the planet orbiting at a 21 degree angle from the rest of the planets in the solar system, which is quite weird, considering that most planets in a system usually have similar orbital tilts.
This planet and its solar system are very important to astronomers everywhere, as it offers a ton of insight regarding our own solar system’s past. The star being only 13 million years old, it can offer us a lot of information regarding what happened in our solar system as it was developing. Scientists also believe that a number of planets from our system suffered the same fate as HD 106906 b, being thrown so far away from the Sun that they are now part of other systems.
Image source: Wikimedia