Astronomers have come up with a new theory that may explain a strange star system, around which the planets revolve in orbits perpendicular to each other.
Scientists from the University of Geneva found that two planets orbit perpendicularly around a star 150 light-years away called HD3167, and pass above its poles.
A third planet orbits around the equator, indicating the presence of a force that has yet to be discovered in this study.
The two planets orbiting vertically around HD3167 were discovered in 2016 and 2017, and are believed to be super-terrestrial planets (the size between Earth and Neptune).
One of them moves around the star every 8.5 days, while the other takes about 30 days. The third, more enigmatic planet, which is estimated to be five times the mass of Earth, is closer than the other two, and orbits the star once every Earth day.
The discovery of this small object, called HD3167b, was difficult for astronomers due to its small size but using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and its Espresso Spectrometer, they were able to determine the orbit of the small planet.
“We needed the maximum amount of light and a very precise spectrometer to be able to measure the signal of such a small planet,” says Vincent Pourier, the researcher from the University of Geneva who led the study. “Two conditions that the espresso meter fulfills, along with the collecting power of the VLT.”
None of these planets can be considered habitable. The scientists’ new findings seem to confirm a prediction made in 2019 about a fourth body orbiting HD3167. In this scenario, measurements indicate that this unknown planet would be about the size of Jupiter, and that the proximity between HD3167b and the star kept it in orbit.
The other two super-planets managed to escape the star’s gravity, but came under the influence of this other mysterious planet, which is likely to orbit the star every 80 days, according to research from University of Exeter Shweta Dalal, which changed their orbit from horizontal to vertical.
Source: The Independent