In some solar systems, including our own, planets orbit around the star’s equator. In others, it orbits around the star’s poles, and in case astronomers are baffled, both types of orbits have been observed. The researchers say that in the HD 3167 system about 150 light-years away, the innermost planet, HD 3167 b, has an orbit like the planets in our system, but the outermost planet, HD 3167 c and d, has a polar orbit perpendicular to that of HD 3167 b, and The New York Times reports. In a study published in the journal Astronomy and astrophysicsThe researchers say the strange combination of orbits may be the result of “interactions with an external companion” – a planet the size of Jupiter they haven’t yet observed, or another unknown force.
“This is something completely different from our solar system,” said lead researcher Vincent Pourier of the University of Geneva. times. He says that if you were on one planet with a telescope, “and you were looking at the trajectory of the other planets in the system, they would have been walking perpendicular to the sky.” IFLScience He notes that the system’s planets “look rather ordinary” despite their unusual orbits: Classified as a “super-Earth,” HB 3167b, our planet is about five times the size of our planet, while the exoplanets are similar to Neptune. All three are considered so close to the star system, an orange dwarf, that there is no possibility of life. The discovery, Pourier says, is the first of its kind showing that “planets can evolve in really different ways.” (Read more exoplanet stories.)
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