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Bizarre solar system is baffling astronomers


Posted on Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 | Comment icon 6 comments

Nobody has seen a solar system quite like this one. Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
Four gargantuan planets have been observed orbiting a relatively young star approximately 500 light years away.
Known as CI Tau, the star, despite being a mere two million years old, seems to have acquired a perplexing array of gas giants with the most extreme range of orbits astronomers have ever seen.

The largest (and closest) planet is eleven times the mass of Jupiter and completes a single orbit every nine days. The outermost planet however, which is around the size of Saturn, is a staggering 1,000 times as distant - that's ten times further away than Pluto is to the Sun in our own solar system.

The planets were discovered by a team of astronomers who used the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) to scour the star's protoplanetary disc for signs of large bodies.

It is possible that the discovery could turn what we know of planetary formation on its head.

"It is currently impossible to say whether the extreme planetary architecture seen in CI Tau is common in hot Jupiter systems because the way that these sibling planets were detected - through their effect on the protoplanetary disc - would not work in older systems which no longer have a protoplanetary disc," said astronomer Cathie Clarke of Cambridge University.

"Planet formation models tend to focus on being able to make the types of planets that have been observed already, so new discoveries don't necessarily fit the models."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (6)

Tags: CI Tau, Exoplanets

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Carlos Allende on 16 October, 2018, 18:27
As long as it doesn't impact the Daily Star astrology page, otherwise reality itself might get damaged.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Gecks on 16 October, 2018, 19:22
Wait, what?! Are you telling me Im not going to meet a dark stranger who will help me financially next friday???
Comment icon #3 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 16 October, 2018, 21:44
I wish there would finally be some scientist somewhere that weren't baffled by everything
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 17 October, 2018, 14:15
There are. "Scientists baffled" is just the press shorthand for, "scientists are working on a problem they don't have all the answers to yet". The same goes for "puzzled".
Comment icon #5 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 17 October, 2018, 19:14
   
Comment icon #6 Posted by InconceivableThoughts on 23 October, 2018, 6:04
I would say baffled in this case means that they have no clue. That they need to come up with a new theory on how planet formation works because I hate to say it if it worked how they say it did this solar system shouldn't exist and since it does exist other planet formation models are wrong and it's not a matter of revision but one that needs to be thought back all the way through.


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