Scientists have announced that they have discovered an exoplanet with an unusual orbit. NASA astronomers have used data and images from the Hubble Space Telescope to study the exoplanet HD 106906 b, which is 336 light-years from Earth.
The exoplanet orbits a binary star system in a distant orbit. However, the orbit is quite unusual, with scientists describing it as “extreme”.
The exoplanet is very far from the stars – the approximate distance is over 730 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun or about 109 billion km. Therefore, the orbit is very long – it takes 15,000 years for one orbit. This is shown by the observations with Hubble, which lasted 14 years. The analysis shows that the exoplanet moves very slowly in its orbit, and the orbit itself is very elongated and uneven with respect to the stars.
The main question of astronomers is how the exoplanet stood there. The basic theory is that it formed much closer to its stars – at a distance of about 3 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
The exoplanet itself is 11 times the mass of Jupiter. However, processes in the binary system have pushed the planet’s original orbit closer to the two stars. The gravitational effect of this process acted as an accelerator and “launched” the planet into interstellar space. According to astronomers, a passing other star has played a role in slowing down the planet and putting it in its current strange orbit.
All this can be a potential reason to search for the mythical “Planet Nine”. Some astronomers believe that there is another planet on the very outskirts of the solar system that has been pushed there due to interactions with Jupiter. And it was the passing of another star that caused the planet to remain in an unbalanced and highly elongated orbit around the Sun.
So far, however, scientists have not had a single direct observation of ‘Planet Nine.’ There is some circumstantial evidence that such a cosmic body may exist, but so far nothing is enough to prove it.
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