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Extrasolar planets at full tilt

The sun’s planetary system may have escaped or rebounded from violent interactions that studies show played a key role in shaping other systems

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2:18pm, August 24, 2009

Call them the wrong-way planets. Several giant, extrasolar planets, all residing within sizzling distance of their parent stars, have orbits so tilted that the planets travel backward relative to their parent stars’ rotation, a flurry of new studies reveals. The misalignments attest to rough-and-tumble histories and may suggest that life flourished on Earth because the solar system avoided the brunt of close gravitational encounters between planets.

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