The special order contained six planets, except for the deepest one, which became entwined in a rhythmic dance.
Scientists have discovered a special planetary system with the help of various telescopes. The galaxy consists of six exoplanets, five of which revolve around its parent star in a very special rhythm. The five exoplanets follow a complex “resonance chain” that, upon examination, turned out to be one of the longest planets researchers have ever seen.
The six exoplanets revolve around the star TOI-178; A star about 200 light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. When researchers first focused their telescopes on this star, they believed that only two planets orbit it. On closer examination, however, it was found that not entirely correct. “The follow-up observations taught us that there are no two planets orbiting the star at roughly the same distance, but there are more planets in a very specific configuration,” said researcher Adrien Leleu.
Researchers were finally able to identify six planets, with the exception of the inner one, that became entwined in a rhythmic dance. In other words, they are in resonance, which means that the planets have gone into synchronous orbits. There is a frequent pattern of planetary motions around their star, with some planets aligning every few orbits. A similar echo can be observed on three of Jupiter’s moons from our solar system: Io, Europa, and Ganymede. The inner portion of the three completes complete orbits around Jupiter by the time Ganymede completes the outer one and two at a time when Europe completes one.
Animations of the orbits and echoes of the TOI-178 planets.
But the situation with the planets around the TOI-178 is somewhat different. The five exoplanets follow a more complex resonance series. One of the tallest researchers he has ever seen. When Jupiter’s three moons are in a 4: 2: 1 resonance, TOI-178’s five outer planets form a series of 18: 9: 6: 4: 3. How exactly does this work? By the time the second planet from the star (first in the series) completes eighteen orbits, the third planet from the star (second in the series) has completed nine, and so on. In fact, scientists initially discovered only five planets in the system, and they weren’t able to locate the sixth planet until they made a calculation, based on this resonance rhythm, where that extra planet should be during the next observation session.
Upon examination, the planets appear to orbit their parent star at a much closer distance from the Earth around the sun. The fastest (and deepest) planet takes only a few days to orbit its star, while the slowest planet takes about ten times. If we look at the size of the planets, it is surprising that the six planets have dimensions ranging from one to three times the Earth. And this while its mass is between one and a half to thirty Earth masses. but that is not all. Some of the planets are rocky, but larger than Earth. The planets are also referred to by the term super-Earth. Others are gas planets (similar to the outer planets of our solar system) but much smaller; This is also called miniature Neptune.
The discovery of this echo planetary dance is not only extremely fascinating, but it also provides us with more insight into the history of a particular planetary system. “The functions of this system are arranged very precisely,” says researcher Yan Allbert. “This tells us that the system has developed peacefully since its inception.” Had the system crashed earlier in its history – for example, due to a major impact – this poor job creation would not have survived.
Where the orbits of the planets are precisely arranged, the densities of the planets are, however, less in harmony with one another. Researcher Nathan Hare summarizes: “It appears that a planet with the density of Earth is followed by a very” thin “planet with half the density of Neptune, and that in turn is a planet with the density of Neptune.” “This is not what we are used to.” For example, in our solar system, planets are strictly sorted by density: high-density rocky planets are close to the sun while low-density gas giants are very far away. “This contrast between the rhythmic harmony of orbital motions and turbulent densities tests our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems,” said Lilio.
the findings The study provides us with new and important clues about how planets formed and evolved, including those in our solar system. None of the six exoplanets discovered were inside the so-called “habitable zone” (the area around a star where liquid water could exist on a circular planet). But what could still come. By extending the resonance series, the researchers hope to encounter more planets located in or near this region. This should be revealed by the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). This powerful telescope is expected to go into operation within this decade. Observations using ELT should enable the team to capture direct images of rocky planets in the star’s habitable region. Additionally, astronomers can explore the atmosphere of these hypothetical planets. This provides an opportunity to learn about systems like the TOI-178 in more detail.
Stay amazed ✨
Get the most beautiful space photos and interesting popular science articles every Friday. Get a free Scientia magazine with 50,000 more.