GLASGOW, Scotland, April 13 (UPI) — A Swiss-led team of astronomers said it’s discovered the theory that all exoplanets orbit on the same plane and in the same direction as their star is false.
Scientists said the discovery of nine new transiting exoplanets, combined with earlier observations, found six of a larger sample of 27 were orbiting in the opposite direction to the rotation of their host star — the reverse of what is seen in our own solar system.
“This is a real bomb we are dropping into the field of exoplanets,” said doctoral student Amaury Triaud of the Geneva Observatory who, with Andrew Cameron and Didier Queloz, led a major part of the observational campaign.
Planets are thought to form in the disc of gas and dust encircling a young star, astronomers said. That proto-planetary disc rotates in the same direction as the star itself, and up to now it was expected that planets forming from the disc would orbit in more or less the same plane and move along their orbits in the same direction as the star’s rotation.
“The new results really challenge the conventional wisdom that planets should always orbit in the same direction as their stars spin,” said Cameron of the University of St Andrews.
Cameron presented the new findings this week in Glasgow, Scotland, during the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting.
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