Newborn Planet Being Kicked Out of the Nest

Originally shared by SETI Institute

Newborn Planet Being Kicked Out of the Nest

Young planets, like young children, don’t always play nicely.

Paul Kalas, a SETI Institute astronomer and adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley reported today on a system caught in the act of planetary misbehavior.

Using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) as well as the Hubble Space Telescope, Kalas and his colleagues examined a star known as HD 106906. This star, comparable in size and brightness to our Sun, is only 0.3 percent as old.

However, the remarkable thing about this stellar system is the discovery that a planet in its outer regions (16 times as far from the star as Pluto is from the Sun) may have been expelled from its birthplace. The planet is no longer in the star’s ecliptic plane, the flat region where orbiting worlds are generally found.

Image credit: Paul Kalas, UC Berkeley

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