About 200 light-years from Earth, these five outer planets are in orbit, with chronological accuracy around their parent star.
The European Space Agency’s Chapes Space Telescope (ESA) first revealed the cosmic “ballet” of five exoplanets, with differences in density calling into question the formation theories of these stars, according to a study.
About 200 light-years from Earth, these five outer planets are in orbit, with chronological accuracy around their parent star, TOI-178.
Vibration refers to a whole ratio between the orbits of two or more bodies. In the solar system, when Jupiter’s satellite completes the four orbits of the planet Io, Europe completes exactly two, and Conmeet one.
The vibration between these three Jupiter moons (first detected with more than two bodies) was discovered in the late 18th century by astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace.
The TOI-178 system has five planets in vibration 20: 10: 6: 4: 3, i.e., when the first 20 orbits are completed, the second forms exactly 10, the third 6, the fourth 4 and the fifth 3. As an exoplanet it does not vibrate.
An animated film illustrates this phenomenon:
“We only know about the other five systems with this configuration,” said Adrian Lilou, an astronomer at the University of Geneva and the lead author of the study, which was published in this week’s issue of Astronomy. Says AFP and astronomy.
Yannick Albert, an astronomer at the University of Bern, co-author of the article, explains that the interest in this study testifies to “a state we consider almost original.”
These are “frozen systems from the end of the training phase,” he adds. It is a miracle that nothing has disturbed this “fragile” balance for more than two billion years to date.
This phenomenon is complicated because, in general, the further away from the star, the lower the density of the planet should be. However, the density of the third system is higher than that of the second. “It’s a big variation, it’s amazing,” says Lelou.
“On the one hand, we have the impression that all of this has not moved for billions of years, that the epochs of the planets are well synchronized with the difference of a few minutes (…) On the other hand, there is this kind of density.”
Observations will continue for ESA’s telescopic chaps, launched in late 2019 to study exoplanets.
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“The TOI-178 system has the advantage of being bright enough, and these planets are large enough to study their atmospheres in some Earth and space,” said Kate Isaac, the scientist in charge of ESA’s Saps mission that signed the study.
The goal is to better understand how planetary systems form and to locate exoplanets orbiting TOI-178 at greater distances.
“We want to see if there are planets beyond the sixth place, and they are in the habitable zone,” Lelou says.
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