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Newly Discovered Giant Planet Slingshots Around Its Star

31 Aug 2019, 12:12 UTC
Newly Discovered Giant Planet Slingshots Around Its Star
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Astronomers have discovered a planet three times the mass of Jupiter that travels on a long, egg-shaped path around its star. If this planet were somehow placed into our own solar system, it would swing from within our asteroid belt to out beyond Neptune. Other giant planets with highly elliptical orbits have been found around other stars, but none of those worlds were located at the very outer reaches of their star systems like this one."This planet is unlike the planets in our solar system, but more than that, it is unlike any other exoplanets we have discovered so far," says Sarah Blunt, a Caltech graduate student and first author on the new study publishing in The Astronomical Journal. "Other planets detected far away from their stars tend to have very low eccentricities, meaning that their orbits are more circular. The fact that this planet has such a high eccentricity speaks to some difference in the way that it either formed or evolved relative to the other planets."The planet was discovered using the radial velocity method, a workhorse of exoplanet discovery that detects new worlds by tracking how their parent stars "wobble" in response to gravitational tugs from those planets.However, ...

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