April 24, 2024

Unraveling the mystery of the resonance of 6 planets

Six planets circling their star in resonance

An artist’s illustration of the six newly discovered planets orbiting their star in resonance. Credit: Roger Thibaut (NCCR PlanetS)

Researchers led by Rafael Luque have discovered six planets in rare gravitational resonance around a smaller, cooler star. This unique arrangement, stable since the system’s formation, was identified using data from NASA’s TESS and ESA’s CHEOPS, revealing insights into planetary evolution.

Discovery

Six planets orbit their central star in a rhythmic beat, a rare case of “synchronized” gravitational motion that can offer profound insight into the formation and evolution of planets.

Key facts

A star smaller and cooler than our Sun is home to a truly strange family of planets: six “sub-Neptunes” – possibly smaller versions of ours
This animation shows six “sub-Neptune” exoplanets in rhythmic orbits around their star – with a musical tone as each planet passes a line drawn through the system. The line is where the planets intersect in front (“transit”) of their star from Earth’s perspective. In these rhythms, known as “resonance”, the innermost planet makes three orbits for every two of the next planet. Among the outermost planets, a pattern of four orbits for every three of the next planet is repeated twice. Credit: Dr.

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