First tilted solar system found

Spacecraft detected pair of misaligned exoplanets

While still in operation, the Kepler spacecraft detected a tilted solar system.

Ames and JPL-Caltech/NASA

Data from the Kepler spacecraft have revealed two planets orbiting their parent star at a 45-degree angle.

Astronomers have detected individual planets that circle their stars at extremely steep angles and have also found evidence of planets that orbit their stars in the opposite direction of the star’s rotation. This is the first time scientists have seen multiple planets circle the same star in misaligned paths, researchers report October 18 in Science.

The discovery could help astronomers understand how solar systems develop with planets that orbit in paths far out of alignment from their stars’ equators.

Kepler is no longer hunting for planets, but astronomers are still sifting through the vast amounts of data it collected during its four years in operation.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

From the Nature Index

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