Astronomers have discovered the first exoplanet with a «vertical» orbit

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Palaniappan GJ 436b, orbiting in a unique orbitAstronomers have discovered the first exoplanet with a «vertical» orbit© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

Planetary scientists found in the constellation Leo the unusual planet the size of Neptune, which resembles the shape of a comet revolves in an orbit parallel to the axis of rotation of its star, is almost inexplicable from the point of view of the laws of astronomy, stated in an article published in the journal Nature.

«On this planet are the most powerful tidal power – it is incredibly close to the star, roughly 33 times closer than the Earth is distant from the Sun. Given that red dwarfs live an incredibly long time, these forces had a long time to «straighten out» the orbit to make it circular, but in reality, it’s not so!» said Vincent Bourre (Vincent Bourrier) from the University of Geneva (France).

This planet, GJ 436b, is a rather large gas giant the size of Neptune. It was opened in 2004 by a group of American astronomers by fluctuations in the speed of the motion of the stars across the sky. GJ 436b orbits a small red dwarf Gliese 436, whose mass is of 0.41 from the sun, and a radius of 0.42 from the same characteristics of the Sun.

Three years ago planetary scientists have noticed a strange fluctuation in power of the infrared radiation Gliese 436, in addition to those that are caused by the periodic passage of the «hot Neptune» in the disk of the star. Discovered this phenomenon, astronomers believed that the glow of a red dwarf periodically weakened another object, much smaller in size than GJ 436b, and announced the discovery of a small earth-like planet, which they named UCF-1.01.

Last year, scientists have discovered that the second planet most likely does not exist, and that these anomalies were caused giant gas «tail» that was taken out of the atmosphere of GJ 436b her a star in the moment when they are maximally closer to each other, and on the surface of the red dwarf, an outbreak.

This discovery recalls Barrie explained many, but not all anomalies in the behavior of the «tail» of the planet, which caused the French astronomers spend a few repeat sessions of observations of its motion for disk stars in March and April last year.

Using the HARPS instrument, which tracks even small changes in the spectrum of the sun, associated with its gravitational interactions with the planets, scientists noticed something unusual – all the data they collected pointed to the fact that the planet is moving at an angle of 80-90 degrees relative to the equator Gliese 436. In other words, GJ 436b orbits around the dwarf almost vertical and very elongated orbit that passes along the equator of the star, while the line between its poles.

Similar observation results surprised the scientists – the age of Gliese 436, according to the speed of rotation of this red dwarf, is at least 4 billion years, which suggests that its planetary «family» could not have arisen recently.

The polar orbits of the planets, in their turn, are not stable by definition, and the attraction of the lights would «round off» the trajectory of GJ 436b through space and force her to move to a «normal» Equatorial orbit.

As scientists assume, in the system of Gliese 436 can be another planet-giant, which in a special way interacts with GJ 436b and makes her move from Equatorial to polar orbit and back every few hundred million years. These orbital «motions» could make GJ 436b to approach with the sun at a dangerous distance and to lose some of its atmosphere.

This planet, if it exists, is at a sufficiently large distance from the star the year it can last hundreds of days, not 2.5 days as GJ 436b, and so scientists are still unable to detect. As I hope the scientists, the new generation of spectrographs capable of detecting the traces of gravitational interactions between the stars and planets will help to check whether this is so or not.


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