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They locate a strange solar system made up of six exoplanets that have remained almost unchanged since their formation

They locate a strange solar system made up of six exoplanets that have remained almost unchanged since their formation

A Solar system that it has not undergone any major changes since its inception something very rarebut that is the case of a star orbits more than a hundred light years of six planets whose secrets are slowly being revealed by science. The star HD110067 in the northern constellation Coma Berenices was already known, but its exoplanets were not. A team led by the Spanish astrophysicist Rafael Luquefrom the University of Chicago (USA), published his discoveries about this system in the journal Nature, which offers a unusual vision of training And Planetary evolution.

This system is “very peculiar” due to several characteristics, Luque explains to EFE. It is one of the few known planets where all planets are in resonance, that is, with patterns that repeat as they move around their star, causing some planets to align every few orbits. In this case, its six planets retain this resonance follow a precise rhythm and trace a unique pattern for each couple, which represents an exceptional case. This type of resonance occurs early in the formation of a system, but in the first million years there is usually a chaotic process, such as a very massive planet, an encounter with a nearby star, or a gigantic impact, that can alter this careful balance. . The result is that in 99% of cases the planets redistribute themselves into “somewhat random” orbits and lose their resonance, explains the Catalan Enric Pallefrom the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and signatory of the study.

The system now described is “extraordinary” – he adds – because has maintained its configuration since its inceptionThis shows that it has not undergone major changes since its formation, which is estimated to be around a billion years ago. In addition, the transit of the six planets in front of their star is something very unusual from the Earth’s point of view, which, along with the The sun’s great brightness turns this system into a small laboratory or test bench, both astrophysicists agree on that. These three functions will enable scientists reconstruct the history of this system, in order to even determine what the dust and gas disk from which it was formed looked like, which is not possible for planets that have left their orbit, says Pallé. The large international team behind the study used, among other things, observations from the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS satellite to characterize the star system HD110067; Tess from NASA; the CARMENES spectrograph in Calar Alto (Almería) and the HARPS-N from Roque de los Muchachos (La Palma).

Other features identified include the mass, size and radius of each one, as well as the fact that they are too close to the star to be in the so-called habitable zone It cannot be ruled out that water may be present. The orbits are estimated at They last about nine days for the innermost planet and some 54 days for the extremeand the six exoplanets are sub-Neptunes, that is, theirs The radii lie between those of Earth and those of Neptune. While we wait for the James Webb Space Telescope to obtain new data about its atmospheres, what is known is that they are extensive and “probably composed mostly of hydrogen and maybe something else that – says Luque – we still don’t know, what it is or “in what quantity”. It is likely that the atmosphere contains water as it is “very common in the universe”, but if methane and carbon dioxide were found, “this could indicate that water is present in its structure in liquid form”. It is currently unknown what its surface looks like.. A planetary system consists of six sub-Neptunes or mini-Neptunesoffers many research options, because this type of Planets are the most numerous in the Milky Wayalthough there are none in the solar system.

Luque emphasizes that the study of mini-Neptunes is one of the most active areas within exoplanets and that a system with six around the same star “removes many obstacles” that stand in the way of understanding this type of planet. It is “a laboratory” where you can Observe what the atmospheres of different planets are like and their possible differences depending on the distance at which they were formed from the star, Pallé states. In addition, it will allow other unknowns that still exist beyond that Formation, development and atmospheric composition and the internal nature of this type of planet can be clarified by direct observations. For Luque, “a much deeper knowledge of this type of planet awaits us in the coming years.” The University of La Laguna (Tenerife) also took part in the study; the Institute of Sciences for Spatial Studies of Catalonia (IEEC); the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia (IAA) and the Astrobiology Center (INTA-CSIC).

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