A exoplanet 336 light years away of the Earth has shed light on the hypothesis of the “ninth planet” of the solar system, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported this Thursday in a statement.
The exoplanet, a giant eleven times the mass of Jupiter named HD106906 b, was discovered in 2013 with the Magellan telescopes of the Chilean Las Campanas observatory and from the beginning it attracted attention due to its peculiarities.
With the help of the “Hubble” space telescope, astronomers achieved in 14 years of measurements unravel its peculiar orbit: elliptical but extremely elongated and very inclined (at 30 degrees from the plane in which all the other planets in the system move).
In addition, they established that the exoplanet has a translation period of 15,000 years around the pair of young and bright stars, from which it separates an average distance 730 times that between the Earth and the Sun.
Is about the first time that experts have been able to measure the motion of a Jupiter-like exoplanet that is orbiting so far away from its stars and beyond an asteroid disk.
“This raised all kinds of questions about how HD106906 b ended up so far away and in such a steep orbit,” explained Meiji Nguyen, study director and researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
To answer these questions the following theory was raised: the planet formed much closer to its stars, but its orbit was affected by a gas disk, which led him first to his star partner and then, by gravitational force, to be ejected at a strange tilt.
If it did not completely escape its planetary system, the hypothesis continues, it was through the passage of a star that managed to stabilize the planet’s orbit (experts have several candidates for this role).
Clarifies points of the “ninth planet” hypothesis
The explanation, the study continues, is especially relevant because it would serve to complete some of the holes in the “ninth planet” hypothesis of the solar system, which posits that there was one more planet in our neighborhood.
According to this study, the “ninth planet” would have been expelled from the heart of the solar system at interact with Jupiter and would have gone beyond Pluto and the Kuiper asteroid belt.
“It’s like we have a time Machine of our solar system to go back 4.6 billion years to see what could have happened, “explained another member of the research team, Paul Kalas of the University of California, Berkeley.
At the moment the hypothesis of the “ninth planet” only has circumstantial evidence, like the small celestial bodies beyond Neptune that move in unusual orbits and whose configuration, according to some astronomers, would be explained by that “ninth planet”.
“Although the ninth planet has not been detected to date, the planet’s orbit can be inferred based on its effect on various objects in the outer solar system,” explains Robert de Rosa of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). “The predictions for the orbit of the ninth planet are similar to what we see on HD 106906b,” he added.