Astronomers have discovered a bizarre ‘alien’ solar system that has planets orbiting its star so tightly that one of them has a year as along as a day on planet Earth.
Named after the NASA telescope that discovered it, Kepler-80 is about 1,100 light years away from Earth and consists of five planets that orbit in an area about 150 times that the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, said a report published in the Daily Mail.
Moreover, these planets orbit in extreme proximity to their stars – they have ‘years’ equivalent to one, three, four, seven and nine Earth days.
The study, led by Mariah MacDonald and Darin Ragozzine of the Florida Institute of Technology, stated that the planets resemble Earth’s rocky composition and have similar masses – four to six times that of Earth.
The study further stated that the outer two planets are almost twice as big as the others due and have an expansive atmosphere made up of hydrogen and helium.
The two researchers used transit timings (when a planet passes in front of its star) to observe when the brightness of the star decreased to investigate their orbits.
“Because the planets are so close to each other, a planet can gravitationally perturb the orbits of the other planets, causing it to transit either early or late,” said the report.
“Unfortunately, the inner-most planet is dynamically decoupled from the other planets and has a very weak TTV signal, so we can only estimate its mass,” it further added.
Another rare attribute of the Kepler-80 system is that its planets have ‘synchronised’ orbits – the outer four planets return to almost exactly the same configuration after every 27 days.