Astronomy and Astrophysics
Scientists have just discovered something very wild in a distant star system
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Astronomers have discovered the "unior" of the universe.
Scientists have theorized that it is possible for two planets to share the same orbit while revolving around a star, but it is extremely rare, resulting in a very strange phenomenon called "Trojan planets", but there has been no evidence that this configuration occurs in the vast universe.
That is, until now. A recent discovery in a star system about 370 light-years from Earth provides strong evidence for a Trojan planetary system, according to CNN. If confirmed, this discovery would be the first such system discovered by astronomers.
A team of astronomers, published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, has discovered this likely Trojan planetary system near PDS 70, a young star in the constellation Centaurus. The data show that a giant gaseous exoplanet three times the size of Jupiter, designated PDS 70b, orbits the star in the same orbit along with a 'debris cloud'.
Astronomers think this "dust clump" could be material from a newly formed planet, or, in another grim possibility, the remnants of a torn apart planet.
"The Exotroyans... have always been like unicorns. They are theoretically accepted to exist, but no one has ever discovered them," said Jorge Lilobox, a researcher at Madrid's Center for Astrobiology and one of the study's co-authors, in a statement.
Trojan bodies are rocky asteroids that exist in the same orbit as a planet, and are fairly common in our solar system, such as asteroids in the same orbit as Jupiter, but scientists theorize that two planets could be in the same orbit of their respective stars.
"We can imagine that a planet can share its orbit with thousands of asteroids as in the case of Jupiter, but it is mind blowing to me that planets could share the same orbit," said Olga Balsalobre-Ruza, the study's first author and a postdoc at the Centre for Astrobiology, in the statement.
To find any possible Trojan planets, researchers analyzed data from Chile's Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array of radio telescopes, also known as ALMA, to probe the PDS 70 system.
When researchers looked at one of its planets, PDS 70b, they found cloud debris in the same area where a Trojan planet would conceivably exist, CNN reports, and the dust cloud has twice the mass of our Moon.
To further cement their findings, the astronomers will have to wait until 2026 in order to see how far this possible Trojan planet system has orbited around its star.
If confirmed, the system will help astronomers gain a better understanding of Trojan exoplanets and their formation — and show, once again, that the universe always has new surprises. Exoplanet details: Scientists release stunning video of exoplanet orbiting distant star
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