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In the sky of Coma Berenices o Berenice’s haira constellation located near and west of Leo100 light years away shines HD 110067, a K0-type star with a mass and radius approximately 80% of that of the Sun.
Also known as TIC 347332255, this star captured the attention of NASA’s TESS probe in 2020, when dims in its brightness were detected, hinting at the presence of planets transiting its surface. A preliminary analysis suggested two potential planets, one with an orbital period of 5,642 days and another still undetermined.
Video: Curiosities about planet Earth
Now, an international team of astronomers has discovered an exceptional planetary system around HD 110067, located in our galaxy. This system, revealed in a study published in the journal Natureis made up of six planets that are classified as sub-Neptunes, That is, their sizes are between those of Earth and Neptune.
The most surprising thing about this discovery is that these planets follow resonant orbits, a phenomenon where the orbital periods of the planets are in ratios of small integers. This type of orbital configuration suggests that the architecture of the system has remained practically unchanged since its formation.
These findings have significant implications for our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Sub-Neptune planets, which are found in close orbits around more than half of all Sun-like stars, have been an enigma to scientists, as their composition, formation and evolution are still poorly understood.
Studying multiplanetary systems like this offers a unique opportunity to investigate the outcomes of planetary formation while controlling initial conditions and environment.
The six planets in the HD110067 system are all smaller than Neptune and rotate around their parent star in a very precise waltz.
The six planets discovered have radii that vary between 1.94 and 2.85 times the radius of the Earth. Three of these planets have measured masses, revealing low densities that suggest the presence of large hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. Dynamical analysis of the innermost trio of planets made it possible to predict and then confirm the orbits of the rest of the planets in the system.
This discovery not only adds to our knowledge of sub-Neptune planets, but also highlights the importance of detailed studies of planetary systems to better understand planetary formation processes in our universe.
This study represents a significant advance in exoplanetary astronomy and underscores the increasing sophistication of observation and analysis techniques in the search for planetary systems outside our own solar system. The brilliance of HD 110067 and its orbital planets make it an ideal target for future research, including observations with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, to determine whether these apparently gas- or water-rich sub-Neptune planets , have rocky or aqueous interior structures.
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