Astronomers Just Found the Biggest Solar System Ever Discovered

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 - 12:39PM
Astronomy
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 - 12:39PM
Astronomers Just Found the Biggest Solar System Ever Discovered
Astronomers studying planet 2MASS J2126-8140 thought it was a lonely orphan planet, wandering around to different solar systems without a star to create a regular orbit. Now, a new study shows that it is actually part of the largest solar system ever discovered, at a trillion kilometers (approx. 621,000,000,000 miles) away from its host star.

To put that into perspective, this means that the planet orbits its star at 140 times the distance that Pluto circles our Sun. The previous widest pair of objects, by comparison, were 370,000,000,000 kilometers away from each other. The distance between the planet and its host star is approximately 6,900 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, and one year on that planet would last for almost one million Earth years. 

Opening quote
"We were very surprised to find such a low-mass object so far from its parent star," said Dr Simon Murphy of The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. "There is no way it formed in the same way as our solar system did, from a large disc of dust and gas."
Closing quote

The researchers made this discovery, which will be detailed in the Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society later this month, when they found that this planet and its host star, a red dwarf called TYC 9486-927-1 were both approximately 100 light years from Earth. Upon closer examination, they found that the two objects were moving together, leading them to conclude that the planet is orbiting around the star. At this distance, it would take light a full month to reach the planet.

Opening quote
"We can speculate they formed 10 million to 45 million years ago from a filament of gas that pushed them together in the same direction," Dr Murphy said. "They must not have lived their lives in a very dense environment. They are so tenuously bound together that any nearby star would have disrupted their orbit completely."
Closing quote
Science
Space
Astronomy

Load Comments